Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

IRS Chief Counsel Continues to Draw Critical Fire

IRS Office of Chief Counsel LogoCorporate Counsel, IRS Chief Counsel Continues to Draw Critical Fire:

The role of IRS Chief Counsel William Wilkins in the recent IRS Tea Party scandal is setting many blogs afire, at times even overshadowing New York City mayor candidate Anthony Weiner’s failure to keep on his big-boy pants.

Wilkins, you’ll recall, was named in congressional testimony as overseeing the improper targeting of conservative political groups, including those associated with the Tea Party, that were seeking tax-exempt status. It was reported that he met with President Barack Obama at the White House on April 23, 2012, just two days before Wilkins’s office sent out guidelines on considering Tea Party tax-exempt applications.

Professor Paul Caron of Pepperdine University School of Law helped stoke the flames when he posted on his TaxProf blog a note from an attorney who works in a federal agency’s general counsel office. ...

Although some commenters on the blog rehashed the allegations, a few disputed the attorney’s claim. ...

But other websites were not so kind to Wilkins. Blogger John Steele suggested on the Legal Ethics Forum, “I sure would like to see the attorney client privilege waived as to all conversations [in the White House] involving IRS counsel.” ...

“What did the President know and when did he know it?” asked the Mr. Conservative blog for the Texas newspaper the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

And on The Hill’s Pundits Blog, political analysts Dick Morris and Eileen McGann wrote a post titled, “William Wilkins: The G. Gordon Liddy of the IRS Scandal?” Morris and McGann were referring to one of President Nixon’s chief operatives behind the Watergate burglary. Liddy’s link to Nixon eventually helped lead to the President’s resignation. ...

For a larger roundup of commentary on Wilkins and the IRS scandal, Professor Caron’s blog is keeping a running list of articles and links.

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Wilkins has not been named in any testimony by name. Hull and Schoemaker both referred to "Counsel" or "Counsel's office," which is IRS-speak for the 1600 lawyers who collectively serve as the legal agency for the IRS. Anyone who has ever worked for or with the IRS knows that the IRS divides along the lines of the "Commissioner's side" and "Counsel." When using these terms, IRS and Chief Counsel employees are referring to the agency, not a particular person.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Jul 30, 2013 11:06:51 AM