The role of IRS Chief Counsel William Wilkins continues to unfold. The Wall Street Journal explains:
Getting the advice of in-house lawyers isn’t unusual, but extended delays of the applications was. One important question will be whether Mr. Wilkins was personally in the loop on the extended vetting. In May, the IRS issued a statement specifically denying that Mr. Wilkins was at an August 2011 meeting about tax-exempt groups that was noted in the original IRS report from Treasury Inspector General Russell George. The IRS said at the time that Mr. Wilkins “is not involved” in the tax-exempt arena and didn’t know about the issue until sometime this year.
Count us skeptical that, as head of the IRS’s legal shop, Mr. Wilkins wasn’t aware of the questions and evolving procedures for handling 501(c)(4) applications. When he was appointed to the IRS job in April 2009, the White House announcement emphasized his expertise in “counselling non-profit organizations.”
As a partner at Washington D.C. law firm WilmerHale in 2008, Mr. Wilkins helped lead the defense of Chicago Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s United Church of Christ when the IRS investigated then Senator Barack Obama‘s involvement with the church for any violations of its 501(c)(3) status. “We were so interested in the case we offered to do it pro bono,” Mr. Wilkins told The American Lawyer at the time.
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