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Obama Fired IG Who Investigated Friend

From (the great Byron York) via the DC Examiner:

Michelle Obama greets AmeriCorps members.

What’s behind Obama’s sudden attempt to fire the AmeriCorps inspector general?

By: Byron York
06/11/09

Some strange and potentially suspicious events tonight concerning the Obama White House and the AmeriCorps program.  I’ve been told that on Wednesday night the AmeriCorps inspector general, Gerald Walpin, received a call from the White House counsel’s office telling him that he had one hour to either resign or be fired.  The White House did not cite a reason.  "The answer that was given was that it’s just time to move on," one Senate source told me tonight.  "The president would like to have someone else in that position."

Inspectors General are part of every federal department. They are given the responsibility of independently investigating allegations of waste, fraud, and corruption in the government, without fear of interference by political appointees or the White House.  Last year Congress passed the Inspectors General Reform Act, which added new protections for IGs, including a measure requiring the president to give Congress 30 days prior notice before dismissing an IG.  The president must also give Congress an explanation of why the action is needed.  Then-Sen. Barack Obama was one of the co-sponsors of the Act.

Now, there is the hurried attempt to dismiss Walpin, without the required notice or cause.  After last night’s call, Walpin got in touch with Congress, and it appears the White House has backed off, at least for now.  This afternoon, Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, who is something of a guardian angel for inspectors general, fired off a letter to the White House about the affair.

"I was troubled to learn that last night your staff reportedly issued an ultimatum to the AmeriCorps Inspector General Gerald Walpin that he had one hour to resign or be terminated," Grassley wrote.  "As you know, Inspectors General were created by Congress as a means to combat waste, fraud, and abuse and to be independent watchdogs ensuring that federal agencies were held accountable for their actions.  Inspectors General were designed to have a dual role reporting to both the President and Congress so that they would be free from undue political pressure.  This independence is the hallmark of all Inspectors General and is essential so they may operate independently, without political pressure or interference from agencies attempting to keep their failings from public scrutiny."

Grassley said he was "deeply troubled" by the Walpin matter and closed by asking the president "to review the Inspector General Reform Act you cosponsored and to follow the letter of the law should you have cause to remove any Inspector General."

UPDATE 1: I’ve been trying to discover the real reason for Obama’s move, and it’s still not clear.  I’m told that it could be a combination of the normal tensions that surround any inspector general’s office, or the president’s desire to get his own people in IG positions, or a dispute over a particular investigation.  "Bottom line," one source wrote, "getting rid of a tough, Republican-appointed IG who has been aggressively going after waste and fraud gives Obama a chance to replace that IG with a more compliant team player."

I’m also told that a number of inspectors general around the government have been expressing concerns to Congress recently about threats to their independence.

UPDATE 2:  More information now, from the Associated Press.  The White House is going ahead with firing Walpin.  The firing apparently stems from Walpin’s investigation of a non-profit group, St. HOPE Academy, run by Kevin Johnson, the former NBA star who is now mayor of Sacramento, California (and a big Obama supporter).  "[Walpin] found that Johnson, a former all-star point guard for the Phoenix Suns, had used AmeriCorps grants to pay volunteers to engage in school-board political activities, run personal errands for Johnson and even wash his car," the AP reports.  In April, the U.S. attorney declined to file any criminal charges in the matter and criticized Walpin’s investigation.  But at the same time Johnson and St. HOPE agreed to repay about half of the $850,000 it had received from AmeriCorps.

Bottom line: The AmeriCorps IG accuses prominent Obama supporter of misusing AmeriCorps grant money.  Prominent Obama supporter has to pay back more than $400,000 of that grant money.  Obama fires AmeriCorps IG.

Notice that this information has been presented in an editorial.

Our watchdog media didn’t report it.

They are too busy presenting their editorials as news.

  Update!

Well, they have been shamed into saying something, after all.

From Associated Press:

Obama ousts AmeriCorps’ IG who investigated friend

By Ann Sanner And Pete Yost, Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama says he has lost confidence in the inspector general who investigates AmeriCorps and other national service programs and has told Congress he is removing him from the position.

Obama’s move follows an investigation by IG Gerald Walpin finding misuse of federal grants by a nonprofit education group led by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who is an Obama supporter and former NBA basketball star.

Walpin was criticized by the acting U.S. attorney in Sacramento for the way he handled an investigation of Johnson and St. HOPE Academy, a nonprofit group that received hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grants from the Corporation for National and Community Service. The corporation runs the AmeriCorps program.

"It is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as inspectors general," Obama said in a letter Thursday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Joe Biden, who also serves as president of the Senate. "That is no longer the case with regard to this inspector general."

The president didn’t offer any more explanation, but White House Counsel Gregory Craig, in a letter to Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, cited the U.S. attorney’s criticism of Walpin to an integrity committee for inspectors general.

"We are aware of the circumstances leading to that referral and of Mr. Walpin’s conduct throughout his tenure and can assure you that the president’s decision was carefully considered," Craig wrote.

Grassley had written Obama a letter pointing to a law requiring that Congress be given the reasons an IG is fired. He cited a Senate report saying the requirement is designed to ensure that inspectors general are not removed for political reasons.

Grassley said Walpin had identified millions of dollars in AmeriCorps funds that were wasted or misspent and "it appears he has been doing a good job."

Messages left for Walpin seeking comment were not immediately returned.

The IG found that Johnson, a former all-star point guard for the Phoenix Suns, had used AmeriCorps grants to pay volunteers to engage in school-board political activities, run personal errands for Johnson and even wash his car.

In August 2008, Walpin referred the matter to the local U.S. attorney’s office, which said the IG’s conclusions seemed overstated and did not accurately reflect all the information gathered in the investigation.

"We also highlighted numerous questions and further investigation they needed to conduct, including the fact that they had not done an audit to establish how much AmeriCorps money was actually misspent," Acting U.S. Attorney Lawrence Brown said in an April 29 letter to the federal counsel of inspectors general.

Walpin’s office made repeated public comments just before the Sacramento mayoral election, prompting the U.S. attorney’s office to inform the media that it did not intend to file any criminal charges.

The U.S. attorney’s office reached a settlement in the matter. Brown cited press accounts that said Johnson and the nonprofit would repay half of nearly $850,000 in grants it received.

Kevin Hiestand, chairman of the board of St. HOPE Academy, said in a statement it was "about time" Walpin was removed. "Mr. Walpin’s allegations were meritless and clearly motivated by matters beyond an honest assessment of our program," he said.

Ken Bach, who works in the inspector general’s office at the national service corporation, will be acting inspector general until Obama appoints someone to the position.

Walpin, a New York attorney, was appointed by then-President George W. Bush and sworn into office in January 2007 after being confirmed by the Senate, according to a news release on AmeriCorps’ Web site. Walpin graduated from College of the City of New York in 1952 and received a law degree in 1955 from Yale Law School. He was a partner with the New York City law firm Katten Muchin and Rosenman LLP for more than 40 years.

Alan Solomont, a Democrat and the board chairman of the government-run corporation, and Stephen Goldsmith, a Republican and the board’s vice chair, said they strongly endorsed Obama’s decision.

Gosh, what a shock.

Notice that the Associated Press didn’t mention the minor detail that what Mr. Obama did was actually against the law.

A law he himself had voted for and even championed.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, June 12th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

21 Responses to “Obama Fired IG Who Investigated Friend”

  1. Liberals Demise says:

    “Good ‘Ol Boy” network of cronyism has surfaced in the House of the People and Barry is running the show!! This isn’t the only law he has broken, just another in a long list and it keeps amassing!
    Who will stop the half breed from dismantling personal freedom?
    Who will stand up to this uppity negro hell bent on Marxism?

  2. tranquil.night says:

    Everyday is another new otherwise impeachable offense during the Bush years.

  3. Right of the People says:

    Well now we know why he must go, he had the bad taste to investigate one of Obullshit’s buddies. There is a reason for IGs to be autonomous but I guess if you get in the way of The One, you will be trampled. And the excuse he was given:

    “The answer that was given was that it’s just time to move on,” one Senate source told me tonight. “The president would like to have someone else in that position.”

    Time for who to move on?

  4. MinnesotaRush says:

    Another glaring example of the Chicago thug politics that is o-blah-blah and his gang!

    His complete ignorance of the law (that he sponsored and voted for) and this firing .. should come as no surprise to anyone. Expect more to follow.

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      The true liberal will be the FIRST to demand that there ought to be a law, but the LAST to follow that law.

  5. Media_man says:

    Just more proof that we now live in a Banana Republic. I weep for what’s become of our country. Pathetic.

  6. U NO HOO says:

    How is it that basketball seems to keep seeping into the news about a Halfrican-American born in Hawaii, maybe?

    I’m just aksing.

    • Liberals Demise says:

      You have “PROOF” he was born in Hawaii?
      Never mind……didn’t read the “maybe” part.

  7. Gila Monster says:

    The fired IG Gerald Walpin responds, from the AP via Fox News.

    Fired Inspector General: I Acted ‘With Highest Integrity’

    AP
    Friday, June 12, 2009
    An inspector general fired by President Obama says he acted “with the highest integrity” in investigating AmeriCorps and other government-funded national service programs.

    Gerald Walpin’s job was to review grants awarded by AmeriCorps and its parent agency, the Corporation for National and Community Service. He told The Associated Press he has no doubt he acted properly in investigating Sacramento mayor and former NBA star Kevin Johnson.

    Obama told Congress on Thursday he had lost confidence in Walpin.

    As a result of Walpin’s investigation, Johnson and the nonprofit St. HOPE Academy that he headed were ordered to repay about half of nearly $847,000 in federal grants they had received from AmeriCorps. Johnson is a political supporter of Obama.

    http://tinyurl.com/mswf98

    It certainly appears that Walpin was doing his job. Otherwise, why would St. HOPE return over $400k in federal funds if they were innocent of the misuse charges leveled by Walpin’s office?

    This firing was purely political. As Canary posted on the “Selected News” thread, Walpin’s office was also investigating La Raza, ACORN, CUNY and others for various funding transgressions which, naturally, raised the hackles of the Messiah and his minions. Can you see it any other way?

    Sadly, this story will eventually be buried by the MSM, much the same as Piglosi’s lies about the CIA, until it disappears in the fog of memory.

  8. manzal says:

    Let me offer you a different point of view. Although I agree that Mayor Johnson misused some of the funds , that in itself doesn’t seem to be criminal. At worst it was poor judgment and improper use of the AmeriCorps resources.Tell me that doesn’t go on in every office of our government on both sides of the party lines. That is what we should be trying to fix. But the I G is supposed to be an independent counsel free of political motives.That is not the case here. Walpin used his position to try to sway the Sacramento Mayoral election Election (I’m sure at the behest of the GOP) instead of just doing his job which is to investigate abuse and wasteful spending, report it, and seek remedy. Why wouldn’t President Obama try to get rid of him? Walpin’s actions were politically motivated , they were wrong, and he deserves to be fired for it. We all know that any party that holds office tries to promote their own agendas, and with good reason. The majority of the people have spoken by voting them into office based on their beliefs that those agendas should be promoted. If you recall you lost the election. That’s the way our political system works and you will soon have another chance too change it. The fact that all the posts I see from you self-righteous so-called conservatives are always filled with hate, racism and name calling tells me that you are not of good moral character and should look within yourselves before you go around criticizing everyone who doesn’t agree with you.

    WWJD

    • bronzeprofessor says:

      Manzal,

      Hi, thanks for contributing an alternative viewpoint. I only speak for myself — I do not always tout the conservative party line; for instance, I did not vote for George W. Bush in 2000 or 2004, because I was suspicious of his spending habits from the time of his compassionate conservatism campaign in 2000. In 2003, I protested against the Iraq War, then by 2006, I changed my mind and decided to support it.

      The issue of Walpin’s firing is actually quite serious. Remember that Alberto Gonzales was almost surely going to be subject to criminal action, if he had not left the office of the Attorney General, because he fired attorneys for supposedly political reasons. Firing an Inspector General when you are the President of the United States is arguably worse. The one thing it isn’t, is less serious than the things that sank Gonzales’ career.

      I for one do not take Mayor Johnson’s actions lightly, nor the actions of other groups who were being investigated by Walpin. I am a professor at a California State University, and did you know that I cannot even use the photocopier or my office extension to copy anything relating to my activities in the Republican Party? Did you know that I am bound by a strict policy, which dictates that I cannot promote Republican ideas in the classroom unless I provide a forum for the opposing viewpoint? When I put together a syllabus, if I include any conservatively leaning articles for supplementary reading, I have to include articles that are explicitly liberal. I do mock trials and refrain from expressing my opinion until after the student jury has voted.

      Your argument consists of assuming that Walpin’s identity overrides the legitimacy of his position that violations had taken place. But if you simply assess the problems Walpin was investigating, objectively and according to the principles of public funds and partisan uses, you will probably come to a different conclusion.

      I take very seriously the idea that someone in public office cannot use public funds or privileges for partisan purposes. If you get lax about that idea, it is a quick slide into widespread abuse, graft, corruption, and propaganda, similar to what has been documented in dictatorships in other parts of the world. Maybe this sounds overblown, but we cannot remain a democracy if a party can assume power and then use the public treasury to disseminate propaganda, then fire anyone who exposes the problem. If you let Democrats–or Republicans–go down such a road, you make it feasible for a one-party rule that go on indefinitely. Study the case of Mexico in the 20th century.

    • proreason says:

      “Tell me that doesn’t go on in every office of our government on both sides of the party lines”

      Well let’s see, since the Inspector Generals are supposed to look out for the taxpayers, and since, as you say, corruption is just too rampant to control, there is just no need for them at all, is there?

      Firing 3 in the past 2 weeks is certainly justified now that we understand that.

      But hey, let’s save money and fire them all.

      That should take care of the problem of them sticking their noses in areas where they shouldn’t be sticking them.

      Now, why didn’t that approach come up during a Republican administration?

      What a puzzler.

    • Gila Monster says:

      “But the I G is supposed to be an independent counsel free of political motives.That is not the case here. Walpin used his position to try to sway the Sacramento Mayoral election Election (I’m sure at the behest of the GOP) instead of just doing his job which is to investigate abuse and wasteful spending, report it, and seek remedy.”

      Quite the statement there Manzal, and you base this on what corroborating evidence? Funny but the facts certainly don’t fit your narrative.

      Kevin Johnson announced his candidacy for Mayor in March 2008. Sacramento uses the primary non-partisan method to elect their Mayor which was held June 4, 2008. None of the 8 candidates received a plurality (over 50%) therefore a run-off was held in November between the top two vote getter’s, Johnson and incumbent Mayor Heather Fargo who also happens to be Democratic leaning (remember the non-partisan thing) based on her support for amnesty for illegals and gun control. Johnson won the run-off. Facts here;

      http://tinyurl.com/kklevs

      The majority of Johnson’s election troubles were caused by fellow primary candidate Leonard Padilla who brought up Johnson’s previous sexual assault allegations in April 2008, facts here.

      http://tinyurl.com/ll9cx7

      Walpin started the Americorp investigation of Johnson’s St. Hope Academy in Jan 2008 and turned over all his findings to the US Attorneys office in Sacramento in August 2008. The only fact released to the press at that time was the occurrence of the investigation, not results or conclusions reached by the investigation. Timeline here from, of all places, the HuffPo.

      http://tinyurl.com/lp6a9r

      Now tell me again, why on earth would a prominent NY attorney really care who was elected Mayor of a rather smallish CA city that truly has no bearing on the national political stage?

      The only “political” thing going on here is the firing of Walpin by Obama himself, boorish political payback for Walpin’s temerity in investigating his buddies at St. Hope, ACORN and La Raza, nothing more, nothing less.

  9. manzal says:

    O.K. , lets take it from the top.

    Bronzeprofessor,

    I like your reply the best. It seems to be based more on logic than emotion, although I dint think you really understood the point I was trying to make. I consider myself a moderate Democrat. I would call myself a conservative Democrat if I didn’t feel the word conservative has been tarnished forever by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and the whole of Fox News. So I also believe that public funds should not be misused. I only wish that the news media had to abide by the same set of rules that you do at your University and include opposing viewpoints or just report the facts of a story without bias. That also goes for Liberal media. Every day I see and hear stories by the Conservative media that prey on peoples fears, misrepresent the facts, or just conveniently leave important facts out altogether. I also see the comments from people like “Liberals demise” and “u no hoo” above, saying things like “uppity negro hell bent on Marxism” and “Halfrican-American”. It sickens me to think that people are so devoid of moral character that they have to resort to racial slurs and hate mongering to try to make their argument. I made no representation about “Walprin’s Identity overriding the legitimacy of his position that violations had taken place”. They are two separate issues. Walprin as an IG did what he was supposed to do. Walprin as a Republican may get fired for misusing his position as an IG for political reasons, and it would be within Obama’s right to do so as long as he does it according to the rule of the law that he voted for. As far as your association between Obama and Gonzales, I think it would be better to liken Gonzales and Walprin. It seems to me that they both misused their positions whereas Obama is just doing his job. Correct me if I’m wrong , but if President Bush appointed Walprin, doesn’t that mean that a President can fire one.

    proreason

    Did I say anything bad about Inspector Generals as a whole or that corruption was too rampant to control? If you had quoted the very next line in my post you would see that my opinion on wasteful spending is:

    “That is what we should be trying to fix.”

    Gila Monster
    Facts here; The fact is right here just re-read the article we are posting about.

    “Walpin’s office made repeated public comments just before the Sacramento mayoral election, prompting the U.S. attorney’s office to inform the media that it did not intend to file any criminal charges.”

    And in your own prior post:

    AP
    Fired Inspector General: I Acted ‘With Highest Integrity’

    “As a result of Walpin’s investigation, Johnson and the nonprofit St. HOPE Academy that he headed were ordered to repay about half of nearly $847,000 in federal grants they had received from AmeriCorps. Johnson is a political supporter of Obama.”

    Its not too big of a leap to conclude that since “Walpin made repeated comments right before the Election” and that since “Johnson is a political supporter of Obama.” that Walprin did in fact try to make Johnson lose the election because he is a supporter of Obama. In my opinion Walprin did his job as an Inspector General and that business concluded with Johnson and ST. Hope being ordered to repay the money. Since Walpin took it upon himself to politicize it afterward I think he deserves to be fired and that this is just another non-story being used as political propaganda to smear the Democrats and President Obama.

    • Gila Monster says:

      Sorry Manzal but you’re making the typical liberal straw man argument by using the very article we are criticizing for it’s obvious bias to support your unfounded position. The AP makes an accusation in their story, that you specifically cite, that has no support in factual occurrence.

      A search of Sacramento’s local fish-wrap (the Sacramento Bee) reveals your obvious ruse. The earliest article found by a search of their archives is Sept. 27, 2008, a full month after Walpin turned over the results of his investigation to the US Attorneys office in Sacramento. In addition, if you read all the Bee’s 14 articles, you will find that all released information came from the US Attorneys office, not from Walpin’s. Search results here;

      http://tinyurl.com/n6gt6m

      By Sept 2008, Johnson was only running against another Democrat, incumbent Mayor Heather Fargo. Oh my gosh, that’s like undermining Hillary to elect Obama for Pete’s sake!

      By the way, that search was conducted by using just “Walpin” and “Johnson”, no other qualifiers were used.

      Sorry Manzal but don’t bring a knife to a gunfight, your argument isn’t holding water, no matter how many AP “spins” you try to quote.

      As an aside, if this investigation was purely “political” in nature, why is St. Hope paying back roughly half ($450k) of the money they procured from Americorp, being a victim of a political witch-hunt as you so gloriously proclaim?

    • Liberals Demise says:

      That’s Mister Liberals Demise to you, bub!!

  10. Howard Roark says:

    I would call myself a conservative Democrat if I didn’t feel the word conservative has been tarnished forever by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and the whole of Fox News.

    I doubt you even know what the principles behind Conservatism even mean if you honestly believe that Rush, Sean and FNC have “tarnished” its meaning. Just out of curiosity, what do you think the political philosophy “Conservatism” means, manzal?

    And concerning your statement, It sickens me to think that people are so devoid of moral character that they have to resort to racial slurs and hate mongering to try to make their argument., you must really get sick over Obama’s racial comments about “typical white person”, his hatred of the Pennsylvanians who “cling to their Bibles and their guns”, and the people Obama loves and cherishes like Reverend Wright.

  11. Liberals Demise says:

    (moved to above)


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