Inspector General Gerald Walpin has filed a lawsuit to get his job back. Walpin was fired by President Barack Obama but the lawsuit was filed against the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) which is the umbrella corporation for AmeriCorps. Thank you to Always on Watch. See update 11-10-09 below.
CNCS employed Mr. Walpin, however, Walpin has been said to serve at the pleasure of the President, as well as said not to work for the White House.
An Inspector General is essentially a watchdog – tasked with watching an assigned project and reporting unethical misdeeds. That’s exactly what IG Walpin did. The problem is, he reported on the unethical misdeeds of one of Obama’s friends.
Because Inspector Generals are non-partisan, Congress has laws mandating how the firing of an Inspector General should be handled. The idea is that an IG cannot be fired simply because someone doesn’t like his reporting. Instead, Congress is to be notified 30-days before a planned firing and during that time, Congressional oversight investigates.
None of that happened with Gerald Walpin. He received a telephone call from a White House attorney one evening and was given one hour to resign. Walpin refused. He was fired.
Some in Congress complained that this is not the way IG’s are handled, so the White House then claimed that Walpin was “confused and disoriented” at a CNCS board meeting.
Mr. Walpin’s lawsuit, filed in U.S. District court for the District of Columbia, alleges that his firing was “unlawful,” politically driven,” “procedurally defective” and “a transparent and clumsily-conducted effort t circumvent the protections” given to inspectors general under the Inspectors General Reform Act of 2008.
Named along with CNCS are Nicola Goren, acting CNCS CEO, Frank Trinity, CNCS general counsel and Raymond Limon, CNCS “chief human capital officer.”
According to the Washington Examiner, Walpin has not asked for damages, other than payment of his attorney fees. He wants the Court to declare that his firing was unlawful and he wants to be re-instated to his previous position of Inspector General.
There are many elements to the Walpin firing. I can give you the flavor of just a few of them and you’ll “get it” immediately – Walpin blew the whistle on a friend of Barack and Michelle Obama. That friend is former NBA star Kevin Johnson. Mr. Johnson, who was elected Mayor of Sacramento, CA in November 2008, is accused of abusing the funds of his own non-profit…and more, there’s much more to the Johnson story. Walpin was in the way, and he was in the way enough that it appears the President did not follow mandated Congressional procedure to relieve him of his duty.
In the course of his investigation, Walpin found Johnson and St. HOPE had failed to use the federal money they received for the purposes specified in the grant and had also used federally-funded AmeriCorps staff for, among other things, “driving [Johnson] to personal appointments, washing his car, and running personal errands.”
Walpin came to the conclusion that Johnson and St. HOPE should be subject to suspension and debarment. But it was not Walpin’s decision to make; there is another official at the Corporation whose job it is to make that call. In September 2008, after reviewing Walpin’s evidence, the official decided to order a suspension, with the distinct possibility that it would lead to a permanent debarment.
With Walpin’s findings, and with Johnson now in the Mayor’s office, there was a real possibility that the city of Sacramento would not be eligible for federal funds due to Johnson’s possible debarment.
Panic broke out in the city of Sacramento.
Eventually, acting U.S. Attorney General Larry Brown worked a deal that essentially let Johnson off the hook and arranged a repayment of misused funds that everyone knew could not be repaid.
Taxpayers once again had funded a charitable organization, and once again the taxpayer and those in need of the taxpayer funds were screwed. Walpin said that it was a “terrible deal” for the U.S. Government. Walpin protested and the next thing he knew, he was barred from all discussions, negotiations and settlement talks.
Announced today that Gerald Walpin has been cleared of charges that he overstepped his authority in his investigation of AmeriCorps and Kevin Johnson. Read the story here.
Here is background, and of special interest are Nos. 2, 3 and 8: