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Michelle Obama Meets the IRS

July 8, 2010

First Lady Michelle Obama stopped by the offices of the Treasury Department this week to meet a 60-year IRS veteran and the widow of a slain IRS employee.

She and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner both took time during Wednesday’s visit to recognize Valerie Hunter, whose husband Vernon died when a small plane piloted by anti-government zealot Andrew Joseph Stack crashed into an IRS building in February (see Plane Crashes into IRS Building).

“It is an honor to have you here,” she said to Mrs. Hunter, according to a Treasury Department transcript of the visit. “As the Secretary said, you’ve put in your share of years at the IRS in Austin, Texas, and working in the same building where her husband was killed. We are so incredibly sorry for your loss, but you should know that we are praying with you. And it is just wonderful to see such a strong support system here for you. So we are grateful that you’re here. And I was honored to be able to take a picture with you and show it to — if you can believe, she’s got six kids, seven grandkids. She doesn’t look like she would have all that. (Laughter) But thank you so much for being here today.”

Pauline Fenderson and
Michelle Obama

Mrs. Obama next gave a shout-out to IRS employee Pauline Fenderson. “Where is Pauline? Is that — I could have known it was you. (Laughter) It was the hat that tipped me off. But Pauline is from the IRS in Detroit, and Pauline started her career as a typist when Harry Truman was President of the United States. (Applause) So she was a typing prodigy. She was probably two when she did that. (Laughter) Because she looks fantastic. But now, 60 years later, she’s still working as an individual taxpayer assistance specialist. And even though she says that sometimes — just like all of us, she’s a mere mortal — sometimes getting up on Mondays is hard — (laughter) — she does it because she enjoys giving folks a helping hand. So I want to congratulate Pauline, and thank you for everything that you’ve done for so, so long for this country. Let’s give Pauline a round of applause. (Applause.) But whether you’ve been here for 60 years or 60 days — because we also know there are a lot of new folks who are just joining Treasury — it’s wonderful to see a group of people who work so hard every day and make such a strong commitment to this country. ”

Mrs. Obama gave the employees gathered in the room a nice morale boost, and it was probably the first time in 60 years that anybody at the IRS got such a gracious thank you from the First Lady of the United States.

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