(CNSNews.com) – One day after an Aug. 4, 2011 meeting of IRS officials who gathered to discuss the handling of Tea Party tax-exemption applications, an appointment was made for William J. Wilkins, head of the IRS Chief Counsel’s office and one of only two political appointees there, to meet at the White House.
Four days later, on Aug. 9, 2011, Wilkins kept that appointment, according to White House visitor records.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) report on IRS scrutiny of Tea Party groups released in May of this year, states that on Aug. 4, 2011, officials from the IRS Chief Counsel’s office and the Rulings and Agreements office met to discuss the agency’s handling of Tea Party applications, “so that everyone would have the latest information on the issue.”
During a House Oversight Committee hearing on July 18, 2013, Carter Hull, an IRS employee of 48 years and expert in nonprofit tax law who had been assigned Tea Party applications since April 2010, testified that he attended a meeting in August 2011 where employees of the Chief Counsel’s office were present. At that meeting, they discussed the handling of Tea Party tax-exemption applications.
“In August 2011, I attended a meeting at which the applications assigned to me were discussed,” said Hull in his prepared testimony. “I recall that Don Spellman, David Marshall, and Amy Franklin from Chief Counsel’s Office were at the meeting, as well as tax law specialists Justin Lowe, Hillary Goehausen and Ms. Kastenberg.”
“I recall that Ms. Franklin or someone else from Chief Counsel’s Office stated that more current information was needed for my [Tea Party] applications and that a second development letter should be sent to the applicants,” said Hull. “I also recall a discussion about the creation of a template development letter for the Tea Party applications. I expressed my opinion that a template was not a good idea, as there was a great deal of variance among the groups and each application needed to be developed according to its particular facts and circumstances.”
“After the August 2011 meeting, the [Tea Party] applications assigned to me were transferred to another tax law specialist, Ms. Goehausen,” said Hull. “After the applications were transferred, I had no further involvement with respect to the Tea Party applications.”
The TIGTA report lists an Aug. 4, 2011 meeting and also one on Aug. 10, 2011 but the event description for the latter is redacted. The report does not name the persons who attended the Aug. 4 meeting, and the IRS has said that Wilkins was not at that meeting.
Nonetheless, White House visitor access records show that on Aug. 5, 2011, an appointment was made for William J. Wilkins to meet, on Aug. 9, 2011, with Jamal Pope, who is special assistant for White House Initiatives at the Department of Commerce.
The records show that Wilkins was there on Aug. 9, arriving at 7:56 a.m. and then departing at 12:21 p.m.
When asked in May of this year if the subject of the Aug. 4, 2011 IRS meeting on Tea Party scrutiny was then communicated to the White House, Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters, “I’ll have to look at that. I don’t know that that’s the case. … The president found out about this through media reports on Friday. That’s how I found out about it."
"The White House Counsel’s Office was notified a few weeks ago, through the Treasury Department, about the Inspector General’s review and that it was coming to a conclusion," said Carney. "And that is a fairly routine matter, when an Inspector General review is being concluded and will be made public, that there is a notification.”
Carter Hull started working at the IRS in 1965. He has served in the office of Exempt Organizations (EO) since 1975 and he just retired on June 28, 2013. He is an expert on non-profit tax rules.
In his prepared testimony for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Hull said his supervisor in April 2010 assigned him to work on “two applications from Tea Party groups” as “test cases” for handling other Tea Party applications that had been assigned to IRS workers in Cincinnati.
Hull worked in Washington, D.C.
After analyzing the applications he had, Hull made his recommendations for how such applications should be handled and passed his analysis to his reviewer, Elizabeth Kastenberg. “[S]he suggested that I forward the recommendations to Judy Kindell, who was at the time a senior technical adviser to Lois Lerner. I later had a meeting with Ms. Kindell and Ms. Kastenberg in March 2011 at which Ms. Kindell told me to forward my recommendations to the Office of Chief Counsel for their review.”
Lois Lerner, now on paid administrative leave, was the director of the EO division at the IRS. She pleaded the 5th Amendment against self-incrimination before Congress and her lawyer says she will testify if she is given immunity from potential prosecution.
While working on the Tea Party documents, “at the request of my supervisor, I prepared Sensitive Case Reports on a monthly basis regarding the Tea Party applications,” Carter Hull said in his testimony.
In addition, “in the summer of 2011, I recall attending two meetings related to the Tea Party applications,” said Hull. “I attended a meeting at which Ms. [Lois] Lerner, Ms. Paz, Mr. Seto, Ms. Kindell, Ms. Kastenberg, and someone from the Chief Counsel’s office was present. Ms. Lerner led the meeting, and she instructed everyone that the applications should be referred to as ‘advocacy’ applications and not ‘Tea Party’ applications. In August 2011, I attended a meeting at which the applications assigned to me were discussed.”
That was the meeting, said Hull, where at least three people from the Chief Counsel’s office were present, along with tax specialists Justin Lowe, Hillary Goehausen and Kastenberg.
The IRS Chief Counsel’s office, headed by Wilkins, wanted more information collected relative to the Tea Party applications.
Ronald Shoemaker, who supervised Hull, told investigators for the House Oversight Committee about the interest of the IRS Chief Counsel’s office in the 2010 political, election activity of Tea Party applicants.
As the Committee revealed in a July 17 letter, Shoemaker said, “Counsel was not very forthcoming on what their opinion was. But we discussed it to some extent and they indicated that they wanted more development of possible political activity or political intervention right before the election period; that that had not occurred and that that’s what was missing. … Of [redacted] right before the election period. In other words, immediately before.”
In the November 2010 election, the Republican Party won control of the House of Representatives and John Boehner of Ohio became the new Speaker of the House.
Michael W. Chapman contributed to this report.