Jeffrey Lord at the American Spectator has reviewed the White House logs looking for a relationship between meetings listed there and the timeline found in the Inspector General's report on the targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups issued last Tuesday. Lord's work represents yet another example of alternative media scooping a lazy or negligent establishment press.
What Lord has found (single-page print version) is that President Barack Obama met with the President of the National Treasury Employees Union Colleen Kelley, on March 31, 2010. The NTEU is "the 150,000 member union that represents IRS employees along with 30 other separate government agencies." The Inspector General's report, blandly titled "Inappropriate Criteria Were Used to Identify Tax-Exempt Applications for Review," indicates that the IRS, in Lord's words, "set to work in earnest targeting the Tea Party and conservative groups around America" the very next day. Lord's work is a mandatory read-the-whole-thing item. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Obama and the IRS: The Smoking Gun? President met with anti-Tea Party IRS union chief the day before agency targeted Tea Party.
... According to the White House Visitors Log ... the president of the anti-Tea Party National Treasury Employees Union, Colleen Kelley, visited the White House at 12:30pm that Wednesday noon time of March 31st.
... The very next day after her White House meeting with the President, according to the Treasury Department’s Inspector General’s Report, IRS employees — the same employees who belong to the NTEU — set to work in earnest targeting the Tea Party and conservative groups around America. The IG report wrote it up this way:
April 1-2, 2010: The new Acting Manager, Technical Unit, suggested the need for a Sensitive Case Report on the Tea Party cases. The Determinations Unit Program Manager Agreed.
In short: the very day after the president of the quite publicly anti-Tea Party labor union — the union for IRS employees — met with President Obama, the manager of the IRS “Determinations Unit Program agreed” to open a “Sensitive Case report on the Tea party cases.”
... The IG report contained a timeline prepared by examining internal IRS e-mails. The IG report did not examine White House Visitor Logs, e-mails, or phone records relating to the relationship between the IRS union, the IRS, and the White House.
... (the) 12:30 Wednesday, March 31, 2010 meeting between President Obama and the IRS union’s Kelley was not unusual.
On yet another occasion, Kelley’s presence at the White House was followed shortly afterwards by the President issuing Executive Order 13522. A presidential directive that gave the anti-Tea Party NTEU — the IRS union — a greater role in the day-to-day operation of the IRS than it had already — which was considerable.
... Six days following Kelley’s attendance at the White House Christmas party with labor activists like herself, the President issued Executive Order 13522 (text found here, with an explanation here). The Executive Order, titled: “Creating Labor-Management Forums To Improve Delivery of Government Services” applied across the federal government and included the IRS. The directive was designed to:
Allow employees and unions to have pre-decisional involvement in all workplace matters….
However else this December 2009 Executive Order can be described, the directive was a serious grant of authority within the IRS to the powerful anti-Tea Party union.
Lord raises compelling "What did the President know and when did he know it?" questions. Read the whole thing for the matters he raises.
I'd like to add one.
Much has been made of Barack Obama's "joking" about tax audits in mid-May of 2009. A Wall Street Journal editorial rebuked Obama over it:
At his Arizona State University commencement speech last Wednesday, Mr. Obama noted that ASU had refused to grant him an honorary degree, citing his lack of experience, and the controversy this had caused. He then demonstrated ASU's point by remarking, "I really thought this was much ado about nothing, but I do think we all learned an important lesson. I learned never again to pick another team over the Sun Devils in my NCAA brackets. . . . President [Michael] Crowe and the Board of Regents will soon learn all about being audited by the IRS."
... This is why the IRS is so strict with its own employees. Paul Caron, a professor at the University of Cincinnati who writes the TaxProf blog, noted in response to Mr. Obama's remarks that the law calls for the termination of IRS employees who make audit threats for illegitimate reasons. He suggested that Mr. Obama's "joke" might be grounds for firing if he were an IRS employee.
He's not, of course, but as the president his words carry much more weight and he should be much more careful.
In light of the news of the past two weeks, it is reasonable to question the motivation behind Obama's admonition to graduates at Ohio State on May 5 that they should "reject these voices" who "warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner." I contended last week that he might instead have been "preparing the nation for the recent series of scandals" which "he and his cohorts already saw coming" in the hope that the American people might discount their authoritarian aspects and implications.
Similarly, what if Obama's 2009 "joke," in addition to being a clumsy attempt at humor, inadvertently betrayed his full knowledge of the fury he had already unleashed against those who might oppose him?
Curious establishment press reporters could have accessed the White House logs at any time and found what Lord has discovered. US News has even gone to the trouble of making them searchable. But either they didn't, which would be bad enough, or much worse, they saw what Lord saw and ignored it. Under even remotely similar circumstances, or even artificial ones (e.g., the Joe Wilson/Valerie Plame nothingburger known as Nadagate), their zeal to get to the bottom of things would know no bounds if a Republican or conservative was in the White House.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.org.