This nasty administration spent much time going after Gerald Walpin, who until a few weeks ago was the inspector general for AmeriCorps. Walpin’s claim was that 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.
Because he was investigating the president’s friends, Walpin, whose position as an inspector general is supposed to be protected from political appointees and the White House, was fired. Pressed for a reasoning for the dismissal the Administration 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.
Now Congressional investigators are getting involved, trying to figure out what really happened, but their investigation is being stonewalled by AmeriCorps and the White House:
AmeriCorps stonewalls questions of White House involvement in IG firing
By: Byron York
Frank Trinity, general counsel for the Corporation, met with a bipartisan group of congressional investigators on Monday. When the investigators asked Trinity for details of the role the White House played in the firing, Trinity refused to answer, according to two aides with knowledge of the situation.
“He said that’s a prerogative of the White House, so he didn’t feel at liberty to disclose anything regarding White House communications,” says one aide.
Investigators asked Trinity whether he was claiming executive privilege, something that could only be authorized by the president. Trinity answered again that it was a White House “prerogative.” When the investigators pointed out that, in the words of one aide, “there is no legal basis whatsoever” for such a claim, Trinity still declined to answer.
According to the knowledgeable sources, Trinity refused to say what contacts the Corporation had with the White House prior to the firing, or after the firing. He refused to say who at the Corporation had spoken to whom at the White House. He refused to say whether Corporation officials had discussed the specific reasons for the firing with the White House.
The last topic is particularly important to investigators, who believe the Obama administration may be constructing an after-the-fact rationale for canning Walpin.
When Walpin was fired on June 10, a White House lawyer told him that the president no longer had confidence in him. When congressional Democrats asked for a more detailed reason, the White House said Walpin had become “confused” and “disoriented” at a May 20 meeting with the board of the Corporation. Now, the story has shifted again, to emphasize allegations of racial and gender insensitivity in a parody newsletter produced to mark the retirement of a worker in Walpin’s office in May 2008.
The newsletter, which was not written by Walpin, said that the departing worker, who handled procurement for the office, had “finally procured her federal retirement” from a “retirement vendor” who was a “qualified minority-female-veteran-disabled person.” The newsletter also joked that the procurement official would be replaced by disgraced former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, who specialized in “the procurement of blondes, brunettes, and redheads.”
The newsletter was written more than a year before Walpin was fired. The board of the Corporation did not cite it as a reason for its unhappiness with Walpin. The White House did not mention the newsletter in earlier versions of its reasons for firing Walpin. Yet at the meeting with congressional investigators on Monday, Trinity pointed to the newsletter as one of the main reasons for Walpin’s dismissal. When asked whether anyone at the Corporation had discussed the newsletter with anyone at the White House, Trinity refused to answer.
Prior to being fired, Walpin had been investigating misuse of AmeriCorps money by Sacramento, California mayor — and prominent Obama supporter — Kevin Johnson. Walpin’s investigation led to conflicts with members of the Board, who supported a decision by Trinity and other top Corporation managers to reduce Johnson’s punishment. Walpin strongly opposed that decision. After board chairman Alan Solomont, a top Democratic fundraiser, complained to the White House, the White House counsel’s office claimed it conducted an “extensive review” of the matter before the president’s decision to fire Walpin. But three board members have told congressional investigators that the White House did not contact them during the review. (One was told about Walpin’s firing at about the time it happened, and the other two were contacted days later.) In addition, the White House never contacted Walpin himself, nor did it contact his top assistant, leading congressional investigators to question whether the “extensive review” was really just a cover for a decision that had already been made.