TheBlaze's Jon Seidl contributed to this report.
A new story from The American Spectator that has been gaining steam begins with this startling intro:
Is President Obama directly implicated in the IRS scandal?
Is the White House Visitors Log the trail to the smoking gun?
The stunning questions are raised by the following set of new facts.
The story focuses on Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union (i.e. the union for IRS employees), and her meeting with President Obama on March 31, 2010 -- one day before the IRS started targeting conservative groups.
White House visitor logs available on TheBlaze show the visit:
“[T]he 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 American Spectator's Jefferey Lord reports, citing the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration audit of the fed agency.
Lord provides some background on the NTEU:
The NTEU is the 150,000 member union that represents IRS employees along with 30 other separate government agencies. Kelley herself is a 14-year IRS veteran agent. The union’s PAC endorsed President Obama in both 2008 and 2012, and gave hundreds of thousands of dollars in the 2010 and 2012 election cycles to anti-Tea Party candidates.
But let's back up for a second and clarify a few things.
First, Kelley visiting the White House in March of 2010 is not in of itself an extraordinary event. Indeed, according to Visitor Logs, she had already met with President Obama on a few occasions.
Second, we must point out that 117 "total people" were present at the 2010 White House forum on "Worplace Flexibility," which the log lists as the reason for the visit. To be fair, that seems to point to a larger event as opposed to Kelley meeting with Obama behind closed doors.
Third, according to visitor records, the 2010 forum was held in the White House’s South Court Auditorium, which as former White House communications worker Josh King points out, is simply a large auditorium.
"On most days, South Court Auditorium is a generic, stadium-style meeting room with four or five rows of seats; space in the back of the room for cameras sitting on tripods; a small buffer area in front of the stage for still photographers to capture the key moment; and handy backstage doors for easy ingress and egress by the principals," King explains.
Not exactly top-secret, private meeting material here.
But here’s something interesting: President Obama in 2009 handed Kelley’s union an unprecedented amount of control over the IRS.
“President [Obama] issued Executive Order 13522,” Lord notes. “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 specifically allows “employees and unions to have pre-decisional involvement in all workplace matters.”
The fact that Kelley's 2010 White House visit coincides so perfectly with the IRS' targeting of conservative groups, the level of power the president recently granted her union, and the ability by someone within the administration to grant either a quick private meeting or briefing away from the group has raised a few eyebrows.
Just think of it this way, says Lord:
…the IRS union chief went to the White House to meet personally with the president on March 31. The union already had Executive Order 13522 behind it, issued by the President barely three months earlier. An Executive Order directing that the IRS must “allow employees and unions to have pre-decisional involvement in all workplace matters….”.
The very next day after that March 31 meeting at the White House, the IRS, with the union involved in its decision-making, was setting up its “Sensitive Case Report on the Tea Party.”
Coincidence? Perhaps. Odd? A little.
Needless to say, this has raised some very troubling questions [via AmSpec.]:
- Did the President himself ever discuss the Tea Party with Kelley?
- Did the President ever communicate his thoughts on the Tea Party to Kelley — in any fashion other than a face-to-face conversation such as e-mail, text, or by phone?
- What was the subject of the Obama-Kelley March 31, 2010 meeting?
- Who was present at the Obama-Kelley March 31 meeting?
- Was the Tea Party or any other group opposing the President’s agenda discussed at the March 31 meeting, or before or after that meeting?
- Is the White House going to release any e-mails, text, or phone records that detail Kelley’s contacts with not only Mr. Obama but his staff?
- Will the IRS release all e-mail, text, or phone records between Kelley or any other leader of the NTEU with IRS employees?
- What role did Executive Order 13522 play in the IRS investigations of the Tea Party and all these other conservative groups?
Clearly, the IRS scandal may be much bigger than originally thought. Perhaps that’s why Kelley has kept her mouth shut since the targeting was first revealed.
For instance, in a recent Washington Post article titled “IRS, union mum on employees held accountable in ‘sin’ of political targeting,” Kelley really didn't want to talk about the scandal:
NTEU is working to get the facts but does not have any specifics at this time. Moreover, IRS employees are not permitted to discuss taxpayer cases. We cannot comment further at this time.
There you have it.
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Featured image Getty Images. This post has been updated.