I think the answer is pretty clearly "yes." As I explain in The Complete Guide to Sarbanes-Oxley: Understanding How Sarbanes-Oxley Affects Your Business, a lawyer who “becomes aware of evidence of a material violation by the issuer or by any officer, director, employee, or agent of the issuer” is to report such evidence to the issuer’s chief executive officer for remedial action. In addition, as I also explain therein, Sarbanes-Oxley Act § 906 amended the federal criminal code to add a new provision requiring that each “periodic report” filed with the SEC be accompanied by a written certification from the CEO and CFO that the “periodic report . . . fully complies with” the relevant statutes and that the “information contained in the periodic report fairly presents, in all material respects, the financial condition and results of operations of the issuer.” In order to make that certification, a CEO would want to know whether his/her employees were being investigated for potentially serious misconduct. By analogy, Obama thus should have been told about the IRS scandal by his aides as soon as they were aware of it.
So why didn't Obama's staff tell him about the IRS' problems earlier? The WSJ is reporting that:
The IRS consulted Treasury in late April about its plans to pre-emptively apologize for its actions, and a flurry of conversations transpired that included White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and senior Treasury officials, Obama administration officials said Monday.
Two people kept out of the loop, according to administration officials, were President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. Neither was consulted, administration officials said, because their staff wanted to ensure that it didn't appear they had interfered in any way in the process.
I find that argument utterly implausible. First, telling the POTUS about an investigation governmental misconduct in now way suggests that the President interfered with said investigation. Second, the President is not the only one who can interfere with an investigation. To the contrary, if you buy the logic of the "administration officials," it appears that they interfered with the process.
If Ken Lay had told Congress that his Enron subordinates had kept him out of the loop so that it wouldn't appear as though he had interfered with an investigation of the fraud, the Congressmen who adopted Sarbanes-Oxley--an act Obama has often praised--would have howled in derision. And rightly so. Obama should be held to no less a standard.
In short, the guy at whose desk the buck stops should not want to be kept out of the loop.