White House: IRS Chief Counsel Had Non-Profit Expertise, Democratic Ties

July 18, 2013 - 12:20 PM
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IRS Chief Counsel William Wilkens (Photo: IRS)

(CNSNews.com) - William Wilkins, chief counsel for the Internal Revenue Service, who oversaw the multilayer review delaying the tax exempt applications of Tea Party groups, “has a broad tax practice that includes counseling non-profit organizations,” according to the White House.

Congressional Republicans from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee released a letter to the IRS Tuesday detailing interviews with career IRS employees who said applications from Tea Party groups – that were ready for approval – were sent for additional review that included the IRS chief counsel’s office.

Wilkins is one of two political appointees in the tax collection agency, has a history with the Democratic Party, and has worked with President Barack Obama’s former church, the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.

Obama announced the Wilkins nomination in an April 17, 2009 press release.

“He has a broad tax practice that includes counseling nonprofit organizations, business entities, and investment funds on tax compliance, business transactions, and government investigations prior to joining WilmerHale,” the White House press release said.

The same press release announced the nomination of Herbert Allison Jr. to be assistant secretary of Treasury for financial stability and the counselor to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

"I am confident in the abilities of these two fine public servants as we work to turn our economy around and give American families the relief they need during these difficult times. Under the leadership of Secretary Geithner, they will work to serve the American people and bring their unique areas of expertise to the job as we work to put America on the path to prosperity,” Obama said in a written statement announcing the nominations of Wilkins and Allison.

Before working for the Washington, D.C.-based tax firm of Wilmer Cutler, Pickering, Hale, and Dorr, LLP, Wilkins was the staff director and chief counsel for the Democratic staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance from 1981 to 1987, according to the White House.

As a partner at Wilmer Cutler, Pickering, Hale, and Dorr in 2008, Wilkins helped lead the defense of Chicago Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ when the IRS investigated then Sen. Obama’s involvement with the church for potential violation of 501(c)(3) law, the Wall Street Journal and other news outlets reported.