New documents have been released on the firing of Inspector General Gerald Walpin by the Obama White House. This is a long and convoluted story, and I have linked to all the relevant background at the bottom of this article.
Here’s the short story before the new information below:
(1) Inspectors General work
independently from the White House and can only be fired after certain
Senate-mandated procedures are followed. The Obama White House ignored
(2) Gerald Walpin’s investigation into AmeriCorp found $75 million misused by the organization.
(3) Gerald Walpin’s investigation found that AmeriCorp had
allowed former NBA star and current Mayor of Sacramento, Kevin Johnson
to divert funds from AmeriCorp for his own personal use. Johnson was
the founder of the St. Hope Academy, a non-profit organization, and
further found that Mr. Johnson was accused of inappropriate behavior
with three young girls. Last week, it was revealed by a former St. Hope
employee that Michelle Rhee, the current Chancellor of the Washington,
D.C. schools, served on the board of St. Hope. When one of the girls
made accusations against Johnson, Rhee allegedly told the employee she
“would take care of it.” Rhee and Johnson are recently engaged to be
married. And, of course, Kevin Johnson is said to be personal friends with Obama and a donor.
Here’s the latest from Byron York at the Washington Examiner:
Pressed for the reason Walpin was fired, Eisen [special counsel] told House and Senate
aides that the White House conducted an “extensive review” of
complaints about Walpin’s performance before deciding to dismiss him.
According to the new report, Eisen told Congress that “his
investigation into the merits of removing Gerald Walpin involved
contacting members of the Corporation for National and Community
Service [CNCS] board to confirm the existence of a ‘consensus’ in favor
of removal.” But Republican investigators later discovered that during
that “extensive review,” the White House did not even seek the views of
the corporation’s board — the very people whose “consensus”
purportedly led to Walpin’s firing.
Other than board chairman Alan Solomont, the Democratic mega-donor and
Obama supporter who originally told the White House of his
dissatisfaction with Walpin, “no member of the CNCS board had any
substantive input about whether the removal of Gerald Walpin was
appropriate,” according to the report. Only one other board member,
vice-chairman Stephen Goldsmith, was even called by the White House,
and that was on June 10, a few hours before Walpin was fired.
According to the report, Goldsmith told investigators that “the White
House had already decided to remove Walpin and wanted to confirm
[Goldsmith’s] support for the action.”
The new documents show the White House scrambling, in the days after
the controversy erupted, to put together a public explanation for the
firing. On June 11, less than 24 hours after Walpin received the call
from Eisen, the board held a conference call. The next day, Ranit
Schmelzer, who is part of the corporation’s press office, sent an email
to board members giving them talking points to use if contacted by
reporters seeking information about the matter.
“Indicate that you support the president’s decision to remove IG
Walpin,” was Schmelzer’s first instruction to the board. Then: “If
asked why he was removed, indicate that the president lost confidence
in Mr. Walpin.” And then: “If the reporter continues to press, say
that you can’t get into details on a personnel matter, but you
understand there were some performance-based issues.” Finally,
Schmelzer advised the board to avoid “getting into any specifics about
IG Walpin’s performance-based issues. The WH has stayed away from this
and has counseled us to do the same.”
Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Rep Darrell Issa (R-CA) have been
on this from the beginning and are determined to see that the integrity
of the Inspectors General program does not become a political puppet. Read York’s entire story here.
Related and Background: