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Jeffrey Zients. Associated Press Jeffrey Zients. Associated Press  

Jeffrey Zients is out of the country

Photo of Patrick Howley
Patrick Howley
Political Reporter

A top former Obama Cabinet member who met with IRS officials at the White House during the targeting scandal is currently out of the country, a White House source told The Daily Caller.

Former acting Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Jeffrey Zients has still not returned from an overseas exile that began after his departure from the Obama administration in April, two weeks before the IRS scandal broke.

Zients met with then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman and Shulman’s political aide Jonathan Davis and spokesman Frank Keith at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House complex on April 24, 2012.

Only Zients, who was in charge of OMB at the time, and the three men from the IRS attended the meeting, according to White House visitor logs. Their meeting ran for just under eight and a half hours into the night, the logs reveal.

The next day, April 25, the IRS’s chief counsel’s office — led by William Wilkins, who met with Obama at the White House that same week — sent Washington-based IRS officials “additional comments on the draft guidance.” These guidelines covered approving or denying tea party tax-exempt applications, according to a report on the IRS scandal compiled by Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George.

Zients became the acting director of OMB in January 2012 after Jack Lew — now Treasury Secretary — was promoted to Obama’s chief of staff. Zients oversaw  former OMB controller Danny Werfel, who was appointed acting commissioner of the IRS after the targeting scandal broke.

After a Senate vote confirming his successor — Sylvia Mathews Burwell — Zients left his post at OMB on April 24, 2013 with no public fanfare and no official White House statement on his departure, leading Washington insiders to speculate that he “disappeared.”

Two weeks later, news of the IRS’s targeting of conservatives broke when Lois Lerner — then-head of the IRS department that oversees tax-exempt organizations — apologized for the abuses.

Zients, a former consultant with Bain & Co. whose personal fortune has been estimated at more than $200 million, could not be reached for comment.

An OMB spokesperson declined to comment on Zients’ whereabouts.

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