Paul L. Caron

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The IRS Scandal, Day 1347:  IRS Chief Counsel William Wilkins Resigns, Effective Jan. 20; GOP Questioned His Role In Tea Party Targeting

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Accounting Today, IRS Names Acting Chief Counsel Following William Wilkins’ Departure:

The Internal Revenue Service has chosen William M. Paul to step into the role of acting chief counsel after William Wilkins stepped down this week. ...

Wilkins has been the IRS’s chief counsel since 2009. Like many Obama administration officials, he is leaving just ahead of the incoming Trump administration. He is one of only two political appointees at the IRS.

Wilkins drew some controversy in the midst of the Tea Party targeting scandal in 2013 when it was revealed that he had met with President Obama only two days before the IRS provided new guidance to its Exempt Organizations unit on how to handle applications for tax-exempt status from political groups. Wilkins testified before Congress that he didn’t recall many of the details of his interactions with Treasury Department officials during the period when the new guidance was being drawn up, provoking outraged reactions from Republican leaders of the House Oversight Committee blasting him for his cautious testimony. ...

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen [said] ... "I also want to thank Bill Wilkins for nearly eight years of dedicated service here as Chief Counsel at the IRS. As many in the wider tax community recognize, Bill has done an exceptional job leading the legal division of the IRS during a challenging period.”

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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Hey, I'm a sucker for easy targets with a long track record of disinformation. That's something you have in common with the IRS!

Posted by: MM | Jan 18, 2017 7:09:42 AM

Mr. MM: I really get under your skin, don't I?

Posted by: Publius Novus | Jan 17, 2017 8:10:50 AM

Day 4: Mr. Publius justified the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups specifically, the GOP generally, and nobody else. Presumably because he sees absolutely nothing wrong with viewpoint discrimination by a federal agency. And despite the fact that the Supreme Court has ruled such discrimination a violation of the 1st Amendment.
Day 6: Mr. Publius argued that the only IRS scandal was a lack of funding and clear understanding of the IRC. Presumably because he'd have no problem with the IRS targeting other groups that were coincidentally opposed to the Obama administration. And despite several high-profile instances of the IRS, with plenty of apparent budget flexibity, wasting millions of dollars on lavish conferences and trips, as well as a Star Trek parody "training" video.
Day 32: Mr. Publius argued that there was no IRS targeting of Tea Party groups, period. Presumably because logical consistency need not get in the way of ideological thinking. And despite what the TIGTA office reported in Congressional testimony and documented in their report.

I could cite many more instances, but for someone who eschews the label "political appointee", he's certainly acted like one, literally on the 4th day after the story broke, before any serious investigation had been undertaken. Honestly, having to make incoherent excuses for the IRS, spinning new info the day it comes out, floating ad hominems and red herrings, criticizing Congressional oversight, etc. day in and day out for years, and not even getting paid for it!

As a lurker for most of the past 4 years, I see absolutely no evolution in Mr. Publius' thinking, now on Day 1,347, that he hadn't formulated back then. Despite the new information and circumstantial evidence that's been discovered, and that the IRS hadn't destroyed...

Posted by: MM | Jan 16, 2017 7:46:12 PM

Mr. MM: If I were a resident political appointee, I would already be gone. There is no way I would allow my name to be associated with the Trump Administration. Ever. For any reason. Ever. Not ever. At no time.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Jan 16, 2017 3:49:56 PM

"Almost all such appointees tender their resignations and depart..."

Since Mr. Publius has been the resident political appointee tasked with defending the indefensible and related IRS malfeasance lo these many years, is it to much to hope he'll tender his resignation and depart once the new administration is in place?

Posted by: MM | Jan 15, 2017 5:52:23 PM

Wilkins testified before Congress that he didn’t recall many of the details of his interactions with Treasury Department officials during the period when the new guidance was being drawn up

The outgoing administration is so dishonest. Their favorite amendment is the fifth.

Maybe this guy will be going straight into an assisted living facility since his alzheimer's is so far progressed.

Posted by: wodun | Jan 15, 2017 2:57:37 PM

Another lizard like Koskinen.

Posted by: Dave72 | Jan 15, 2017 2:01:06 PM

Messrs. MM and bflat879: It is customary for an incoming administration, whether Federalist, Whig, Republican, or Democratic, to request the resignations of almost all political appointees of the preceding administration. With very few exceptions, almost all such appointees tender their resignations and depart for the private sector without much fanfare. There is nothing unusual about this practice. It has nothing to do with wisdom, good and evil, or scandals (real or imagined).

Posted by: Publius Novus | Jan 15, 2017 1:22:34 PM

There needs to be a special prosecutor appointed on January 21.

Posted by: VoteOutIncumbents | Jan 15, 2017 11:32:59 AM

Rats and sinking ships come to mind. Once the crooks don't have the protection of the President, Vice-President, and the DOJ, it might be wise to just leave. If I were the incoming administration, I'd be looking at those who resign so quickly as a sign there's an investigation waiting to be had.

Posted by: bflat879 | Jan 15, 2017 10:10:30 AM

That's the great benefit of political appointees: They tend to "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil," which allows an administration to claim absolutely no scandals for 8 years. Still waiting on an iota of press pushback on that erroneous assertion; even gradeschoolers could handle that assignment.

Posted by: MM | Jan 15, 2017 9:48:05 AM