Meet William Wilkins - Will the IRS scandal implicate the White House? Let's hope so.
Have you noticed that the Internal Revenue Service scandal seems to be getting ever closer to the White House? The IRS originally tried to set up "rogue employees in Cincinnati" as fall guys. But in congressional testimony, they revealed that the targeting of dissenting groups was directed from Washington.
As Peggy Noonan noted, the Washington supervisor, Carter Hull, last week implicated the IRS's office of chief counsel: "The IRS chief counsel is named William Wilkins. And . . . he is one of only two Obama political appointees in the IRS."
Congressional investigators appear to be conducting a very methodical inquiry, working their way up through the IRS hierarchy and not getting out ahead of themselves by making claims not supported by the available evidence. Note, for example, that they have not (yet) claimed Wilkins himself directed the abusive behavior, only his "office." Democrats and their media allies, perhaps deceptively, interpret the investigation's slow progress as a sign that there's nothing to the scandal. But if that's the case, they should be all for a thorough investigation.
The latest development, reported by the Daily Caller, is intriguing, albeit only suggestive:
IRS chief counsel William Wilkins, who was named in House Oversight testimony by retiring IRS agent Carter Hull as one of his supervisors in the improper targeting of conservative groups, met with Obama in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on April 23, 2012. Wilkins' boss, then-IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman, visited the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on April 24, 2012, according to White House visitor logs.
On April 25, 2012, Wilkins' office sent the exempt organizations determinations unit "additional comments on the draft guidance" for approving or denying tea party tax-exempt applications, according to the IRS inspector general's report.
As this column has argued before, the higher this scandal goes, the better it is for the country. We say that not because we don't care for Barack Obama--let's be honest, a President Biden would be no bargain either--but because the president can be held accountable if it turns out he or his top aides essentially instructed the IRS to steal the 2012 election. A corrupt administration can be dealt with, as Richard Nixon's was 40 years ago.
By contrast, if career IRS employees acted on their own, it means the integrity of American democracy itself is threatened by an out-of-control administrative state. In that case, how to solve the problem is not at all clear.