Photoshop credit: Leo Alberti
Last week, I told you about First Lady Michelle Obama’s meddling intervention in reshuffling the fraud-friendly AmeriCorps management. Inspector General Gerald Walpin got the boot after refusing to turn a blind eye to the likely squandering of AmeriCorps funds by Obama supporter/Sacramento mayor/former NBA star Kevin Johnson and also, as I noted, because of his recent IG report auditing the wasteful Teaching Fellows Program, run by the Research Foundation of the City University of New York, which is AmeriCorps’s largest and most expensive program.
Byron York at the Examiner.com interviewed Walpin about the firing:
The White House’s decision to fire AmeriCorps inspector general Gerald Walpin came amid politically-charged tensions inside the Corporation for National and Community Service, the organization that runs AmeriCorps. Top executives at the Corporation, Walpin explained in an hour-long interview Saturday, were unhappy with his investigation into the misuse of AmeriCorps funds by Kevin Johnson, the former NBA star who is now mayor of Sacramento, California and a prominent supporter of President Obama. Walpin’s investigation also sparked conflict with the acting U.S. attorney in Sacramento amid fears that the probe — which could have resulted in Johnson being barred from ever winning another federal grant — might stand in the way of the city receiving its part of billions of dollars in federal stimulus money. After weeks of standoff, Walpin, whose position as inspector general is supposed to be protected from influence by political appointees and the White House, was fired.
Walpin learned his fate Wednesday night. He was driving to an event in upstate New York when he received a call from Norman Eisen, the Special Counsel to the President for Ethics and Government Reform. “He said, ‘Mr. Walpin, the president wants me to tell you that he really appreciates your service, but it’s time to move on,'” Walpin recalls. “Eisen said, ‘You can either resign, or I’ll tell you that we’ll have to terminate you.'”
At that moment, Walpin says, he had finished not only a report on the Sacramento probe but also an investigation into extensive misuse of AmeriCorps money by the City University of New York, which is AmeriCorps’ biggest program. Walpin says he told Eisen that, given those two investigations, neither of which was well-received by top Corporation management, the timing of his firing seemed “very interesting.” According to Walpin, Eisen said it was “pure coincidence.”
Rule number one of the Chicago political machine: There’s no such thing as “pure coincidence” in Obama-land.
It’s time for First Lady Michelle Obama’s role in all this to get the scrutiny it deserves.
President Obama co-sponsored the Inspector Generals Reform Act last year, which is now law. It states:
“If an Inspector General is removed from office or is transferred to another position or location within an establishment, the President shall communicate in writing the reasons for any such removal or transfer to both Houses of Congress, not later than 30 days before the removal or transfer.”
Where’s the beef?