Despite the efforts of Obama administration to go after Gerald Walpin personally, it looks as if the scandal that the former IG was trying to investigate may be bursting out of its cover -up. Until a few months Wolpin was the inspector general for AmeriCorps. He claims he was fired because he made the mistake of Investigation a friend of Obama (FOB), Kevin Johnson former NBA star who is now mayor of Sacramento, California, for the misuse of AmeriCorps funds.
Pressed for a reasoning for the dismissal the Administration trashed Walpin hinting that he was in the early stages of dementia. They said the IG seemed “disoriented” at one meeting. But Walpin’s version of the story was confirmed by a AmeriCorps board member who confirmed that he was fired to protect the Democrats from a political scandal.
A GOP report contends that the Obama White House was politically motivated when it fired inspector general Gerald Walpin after his 2008 investigation of Kevin Johnson, now Sacramento’s mayor. The report by Senators Issa and Grassley criticizes the White House ethics counsel, for not examining what Walpin had been investigating at the time of his dismissal, including the allegations of sexual misconduct by Johnson and hush-money payoffs by his now-fiancee Michelle Rhee.
As reported by Byron York in the Washington Examiner:
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The investigation began after the AmeriCorps inspector general, Gerald Walpin, received reports that Johnson had misused some of the $800,000 in federal AmeriCorps money provided to St. Hope, a non-profit school that Johnson headed for several years.
Walpin was looking into charges that AmeriCorps-paid volunteers ran personal errands for him, washed his car, and took part in political activities. In the course of investigating those allegations, the congressional report says, Walpin’s investigators were told that Johnson had made inappropriate advances toward three young women involved in the St. Hope program — and that Johnson offered at least one of those young women money to keep quiet.
At the time, Rhee was on the board of St. Hope. A former St. Hope employee who reported one of the allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct by Johnson told Walpin’s investigators that Rhee “learned of the allegations and played the role of a fixer, doing ‘damage control,'” the congressional report says.
The employee told investigators that Rhee told her that “she was making this her number one priority, and she would take care of the situation.” A short time later, the employee learned that the girl who had complained about Johnson had received a visit from Johnson’s personal attorney.
The congressional report quotes the girl as saying the attorney “basically asked me to keep quiet,” and Johnson offered her $1,000 a month for the duration of her time with St. Hope. Once investigators learned about that, the report says, they had “reasonable suspicions about potential hush money payments and witness tampering at a federally funded entity.”
Walpin included the allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct, along with evidence of misuse of federal money, in a criminal referral to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento. The acting U.S. Attorney, Lawrence Brown, reached a settlement with Johnson under which St. Hope was obligated to pay back some of the money, but took no action on the other matters.
…In August 2008, at the time Walpin referred the matter to the U.S. Attorney, he also presented the evidence of misuse of federal money to officials at the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that oversees AmeriCorps. In September 2008, those officials barred Johnson from receiving any more federal money.
All this was happening as Johnson was running for mayor of Sacramento, a race he won in November 2008. Johnson’s suspension from receiving federal money became a hot issue in early 2009 after Congress passed the $787 billion stimulus bill. Many people in Sacramento worried that the city would not be able to get its share of that money if the mayor was banned from receiving federal dollars.
Amid that atmosphere of anxiety, in April of this year, the U.S. Attorney’s office announced a deal under which St. Hope would pay back about half of the money it received from AmeriCorps and, in return, Johnson would no longer be banned from receiving federal money. Brown released a statement saying the settlement “removes any cloud whether the City of Sacramento will be prevented from receiving much-needed federal stimulus funds.“
…After the settlement, Walpin wanted to continue probing the St. Hope affair, particularly a new allegation that St. Hope employees might have destroyed evidence. Walpin made his case to the board of the Corporation for National and Community Service at a meeting on May 20. He also strongly criticized the board for making what he felt was a bad settlement and for failing to exercise sufficient oversight of the matter.
The Issa/Grassley report suggests that Walpin was indeed fired because of the St. Hope affair and concludes that Johnson’s friends in the White House “orchestrated an after-the-fact smear campaign to justify” Walpin’s dismissal.
The report says the allegations of sexual misconduct and a cover-up “provide important context for Walpin’s insistence that the St. Hope matter should not have been settled without further inquiry.” In light of those allegations, the report says, complaints that Walpin was being too aggressive seem unfounded. “The content of the referral tends to undermine any notion that the [inspector general’s] investigation was driven by inappropriate motives on the part of Walpin,” the report says. “Rather, it appears to have been driven by non-political, career investigators simply following the facts.”
There seems little doubt that Johnson’s alleged conduct contributed to a sometimes troubled atmosphere at St. Hope. In the criminal referral, Walpin wrote that the allegations “seriously impact on both the security of young [volunteers] placed in the care of [St. Hope] and, if such incidents occur, the ability of AmeriCorps to continue to attract volunteers.” The referral, which Grassley and Issa’s investigators have released in its entirety along with the new report, contains the following description of one of the incidents, a description which uses the AmeriCorps terminology of referring to young volunteers as “Members.”
Our investigation disclosed evidence of sexual misconduct towards young female Members by Mr. Johnson. One Member reported that, in the February/March 2007 time frame, she was entering grades in the [school’s] database system per Mr. Johnson’s instructions at the St. Hope office at night, purportedly as part of her AmeriCorps service. [The girl] contacted Mr. Johnson to inform him that she had completed the grades and wanted him to review them.
About 11:00 p.m., Mr. Johnson arrived at St. Hope and instructed [the girl] to gather her things and come with him. Mr. Johnson drove to [the girl’s] apartment, which is managed by St. Hope Development and houses its AmeriCorps Members, purportedly so that they could review the students’ grades. While in [the girl’s] apartment, in which another AmeriCorps Member had a separate bedroom, Mr. Johnson laid down on [the girl’s] bed. [The girl] sat on the edge of the bed to show him the grades, at which time Mr. Johnson “laid down behind me cupping his body around mine like the letter C. After about 2-3 minutes or so, I felt his hand on my left side where my hip bone is.”
Further, although not detailed in her written statement, [the girl] during the interview demonstrated while explaining that Mr. Johnson’s hand went under her untucked shirt and moved until his hand was on her hip. [The girl] immediately got up and stated she was done and left the room. When she returned, Mr. Johnson was still in her bed, but now apparently sleeping. Only after [the girl] sought to take a blanket to sleep elsewhere did Mr. Johnson exit to the living room of the apartment. [The girl] related that Mr. Johnson slept on the couch in her apartment living room that night and subsequently left the apartment at approximately 6 a.m. the next day. The young woman told investigators that after she “got the courage” to tell her supervisors, she was visited by Johnson’s lawyer, who, the girl said, “basically asked me to keep quiet.” Later, the girl said, Johnson himself “offered to give me $1,000 a month until the end of the program.” Johnson, the girl said, said the arrangement would be confidential — “between him and I.”
This entire affair reads like a bad nighttime soap opera, unfortunately its real life. And the this “most transparent administration in history,” may be participating in it’s cover-up.