Shock Ted Cruz Claim About White House-IRS Collusion Is Not Actually True

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 19 2013 2:34 PM

Shock Ted Cruz Claim About White House-IRS Collusion Is Not Actually True

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks during a news conference May 16, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

My colleague Emma Roller is doing the legwork at today's Tea Party rally to "audit the IRS," but I'm paying attention to the messaging from members of Congress.

"Why did the director of the IRS visit the White House 157 times?" asked Ted Cruz. During the Bush years, he claimed, the director only visited the place once. So Cruz poured on the snark. "He has an excuse—he was at the White House Easter Egg Roll! I know it feels like the Obama administration has been going on for a long time, but I don't think we've had 157 Easters!"


We haven't, true, but ousted IRS Director Douglas Shulman didn't actually visit the Obama White House 157 times. The great Garance Franke-Ruta spotted this head-popping claim last month, and explained its origins in the comprehensive way the Obama White House issues documentation of visits. (The Bush White House had a different disclosure process, which partly explains Cruz's other number.) Shulman was cleared to enter the White House 157 times, but "he was cleared 40 times to meet with Obama's director of the Office of Health Reform, and a further 80 times for the biweekly health reform deputies meetings and others set up by aides involved with the health-care law implementation efforts." The Bush years didn't see a vast expansion of the IRS' responsibilities; the Obama years did. And further, the White House only has dates and times confirming 11 total Shulman visits. Some of those other times, maybe more than 100 of those other times, Shulman was cleared but didn't show.

So did the IRS director stop by the White House during the period when his tax-exempt office was irritating Tea Party groups? Yes. Has the IRS devoted plenty of bureaucratic hours to the coming implementation of Obamacare? Yes—famously, it moved over one administrator from tax-exempt duties to Obamacare duties. But Cruz was suggesting that Shulman was shuttling back and forth from top White House meetings that must have been about the targeting of the Tea Party. When you've got this much to work with, why gild that lily?

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.


Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 16 2014 11:46 PM The Scariest Campfire Story More horrifying than bears, snakes, or hook-handed killers.
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.