The curious firing of Gerald Walpin gets … curiouser

posted at 3:15 pm on June 15, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Senator Charles Grassley has demanded records from the Obama administration over the dismissal of the Inspector General for Americorps and raises the possibility that Barack Obama broke a law he co-sponsored in the Senate that protects the independence of the IGs.  The firing comes as the Obama administration cut a sweetheart deal with a major Obama backer that allows him to receive federal funding as mayor of Sacramento, and fails to repay taxpayers for the money Kevin Johnson admittedly took illegally:

In an email and fax sent late Friday, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, demanded that Alan D. Solomont, the chairman of the Corporation for National and Community Service, provide “any and all records, email, memoranda, documents, communications, or other information, whether in draft or final form” related to President Obama’s firing of CNCS Inspector General Gerald Walpin. …

“For reasons that I do not yet understand, the OIG was excluded from this proceeding and the settlement lifting the suspension, was done in complete disregard of the OIG’s findings, as well as the previous determination of wrong doing identified in the Notice of Suspension,” Grassley wrote. “Perhaps the settlement agreement was reached without any input from the OIG, because less than half of what was misused by the Corporation grantees is being returned to the taxpayer and the OIG would not have agreed to this arrangement.  In fact, an argument can be made that not even half of the misused funds is being returned, because the settlement does not require that payment in full be made.  Rather the settlement places the grantees on a type of payment plan that will occur over a decade; to date less than 10% of the misused money has been recovered.”

Byron York interviewed Walpin and got more information on how the Obama administration froze him out of negotiations with Johnson:

As this was happening, the matter was also under consideration by the local U.S. attorney’s office after Walpin referred the matter to the office for a criminal inquiry. Since January of this year, the office has been headed by an acting U.S. attorney, Lawrence Brown, a career prosecutor who took over after the departure of the previous, Bush-appointed U.S. attorney.  The office decided not to pursue criminal charges against Johnson, but also entered into settlement talks with Johnson and St. HOPE.  What resulted was, according to Walpin, highly unusual.

Settlement talks would normally cover the issue of whether Johnson would be required to give the misused federal funds back to the government.  But amid the frenzy surrounding the possible denial of federal stimulus funds, Brown wanted to negotiate not only some sort of repayment scheme but also an end to Johnson’s suspension.  Walpin learned about that during a March telephone conversation with Brown.  “He said he wanted to settle,” Walpin recalls, “and he said that lifting the suspension had to be part of it because that was the 800-pound gorilla in the way of a settlement.”

Walpin was adamantly opposed to a lifting of the suspension; after all, he had recommended that Johnson not only be suspended but be barred for receiving future federal funds.  Walpin says that after that, he was cut out of the settlement talks; Brown worked directly with top officials of the Corporation, who seemed eager to work out a deal in a case involving a high-profile Obama supporter and lots of stimulus money.  (The Corporation is now headed by Alan Solomont, a philanthropist and Democratic fundraiser appointed by President Obama.)

Together, Brown and the top Corporation brass negotiated a deal.  Johnson and St. HOPE would pay back about half of the $850,000 in AmeriCorps grant money it had received, and the suspension against Johnson would be lifted.

Walpin was very unhappy.  First of all, he said it was a terrible deal for the U.S. government, because St. HOPE was essentially insolvent and would never pay the money back.  Second, he felt lifting Johnson’s suspension would dilute the effectiveness of future investigations; why should grant recipients worry about their misconduct if any sanctions can be so easily lifted?  In the end, Johnson was not suspended, not debarred, and was probably not going to pay the vast majority of the money back.

Hope and change!  It looks very suspicious.  The administration has overtly interfered with the IG in his investigation, and now has tried to fire him, apparently for reporting to Congress.  If so, then the White House has abused its power on behalf of a campaign contributor and political ally — an act that would make Richard Nixon blush. I doubt this Congress will hold Obama accountable for it, but kudos to Senator Grassley for not letting it go.


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Its not this Congress that Obama has to worry about; its the next Congress coming that may be a little more red than this blue nightmare.

RedSoxNation on June 15, 2009 at 5:38 PM

Sounds like the legal basis for impeachment.

federale86 on June 15, 2009 at 5:42 PM

Fools. This was all predicted. Cronyism is only One of the horsemen of the ECONOCLYPSE of the OBAMANATION!!

The other horsemen are: Greed, Spineless Media, and Obeisance to Despots.

Soon the rivers and oceans will run red with the ink of the American economy! We are all somewhat doomed for a while!!

StubbleSpark on June 15, 2009 at 5:48 PM

Let’s not hit the “impeachment” button yet, please. We aren’t a bunch of Kos Kids.

blueguitarbob on June 15, 2009 at 5:51 PM

I’ll say it again now that the broken-page comment is off-screen…

That dude was separated at birth from Bill Press.

Abby Adams on June 15, 2009 at 5:53 PM

If this situation is as Walpin presents it – and I will not jump to that conclusion quite yet – then it strikes me that Obama’s walked eyes-open into an act far more obviously criminal, and certainly more blatant and malicious, than anything for which Bill Clinton was impeached.

Maybe he thinks he can get away with it ’cause this Congress would never vote to impeach, but he’s treading a fine line.

JEM on June 15, 2009 at 5:57 PM

This is a much bigger deal than any one seems to realize. When the KING can off with their heads at his whim and there are no repercussions, we are headed more quickly than we know to a total loss of freedom in this country. When will we wake up? I hope for change, change to realism and away from this horrible take over.

Pardonme on June 15, 2009 at 5:58 PM

Sounds like the legal basis for impeachment.

federale86 on June 15, 2009 at 5:42 PM

You ain’t kidding. President, or not, this is illegal, and morally WRONG. Where does Obama get off, apologizing for us, and demanding that we feel shame, when he’s pulling one felony after the other, and seemingly without consequences. We need to start the fire burning, and hold him accountable for his actions.

capejasmine on June 15, 2009 at 6:01 PM

We can’t possibly investigate this. We have slutty Alaska governors to trash and conservative talk show hosts to denigrate. Where will we find the time?

SKYFOX on June 15, 2009 at 6:20 PM

Hard to pin this on Obama directly. Seems like there may be discussion regarding the start of the 30 day period. But then again, maybe the reason has already been secretly reported to the appropriate people and that is that.

Neither a pelosi run house nor a reid directed senate will attempt any investigation of this corrupt act. (note: even the leftie sac bee could not quite explain how johnson got away with this one)

Meantime, ‘the boys’ in Sacramento will no doubt use future money in whatever manner they see fit as there are NO laws in place to hinder them!

Freddy on June 15, 2009 at 6:21 PM

Hard to pin this on Obama directly.

Freddy on June 15, 2009 at 6:21 PM

Huh?

From The Washington Times:

President fires official ‘out of the blue’
Hints at retaliation

An inspector general fired by President Obama says he was given no warning and only one hour to decide whether to resign or be let go, hinting the action was retaliation for a report highly critical of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA basketball star and an Obama supporter.

The White House hasn’t said specifically why it fired Mr. Walpin, other than to say that the president has lost confidence in him.

“It is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as Inspectors General,” said Mr. Obama in a letter to Congress Thursday. “That is no longer the case with regard to this Inspector General.”

From HuffPo:

In a letter to Congress on Thursday, Obama said he had lost confidence in Walpin and was removing him from the position.

Jack Tapper at ABC News has quite a bit on it, too. I just can’t seem to copy any of it.

califcon on June 15, 2009 at 6:31 PM

During the campaign

“Sen. Obama, you’re not well known for co-sponsoring bills”

“Oh, yes, I am”.

“Which ones”

“The one on ethics, the on on the IG”

Schadenfreude on June 15, 2009 at 6:36 PM

I would discount that assertion coming from a lot of other people, baldilocks. The fact that you think it’s so makes it pretty frightening. How can this possibly be???

califcon on June 15, 2009 at 5:28 PM

It’s not that complicated: Marxism with a racial spoils system.

Mayor Johnson is black and will be the recipient of gov’t funds whether Americorps’ IG likes it or not. And if he doesn’t like it, he can get the boot.

“It’s against the Rules, you say? Too bad. The rules are what we say they are and we’ll apply them when it suits our purposes. Don’t like it? What are you going to do about it? We won.”

baldilocks on June 15, 2009 at 6:38 PM

And don’t take my word for it. READ.

Library.

baldilocks on June 15, 2009 at 6:39 PM

Don Obama just making payoffs.

GarandFan on June 15, 2009 at 6:41 PM

Jake Tapper’s artcle (comments section):

Still more stinkiness to consider:

On May 20th, the Sacramento Bee published the text of a letter of resignation from St. Hope’s executive director, highly critical of the St. Hope Board and Kevin Johnson and alleging that a board member deleted emails from Kevin Johnson at the time the organization was under federal subpoena during Walpin’s investigation(it should be noted that a total of four St. Hope board members resigned since March). Maya called it in his letter an “inappropriate and potentially unlawful incursion” into the email system. US Attorney Brown noted in the story that he was unaware of this, but added, “There certainly would be an interest here if it appears there may have been a potential obstruction of justice.”

In a follow-up story the next day, the Bee reported Brown as saying, “The deliberate destruction of evidence is a serious allegation and will be treated accordingly,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Lawrence Brown, whose office negotiated the financial settlement with St. HOPE. “We are reviewing the matter and will determine what investigative steps, if any, should be undertaken and by whom.”

Walpin went further stating in the same story, “Given these circumstances, I believe that it would be (the) responsibility of the acting U.S. attorney to recuse himself and ask the court to appoint a special prosecutor who would, with the assistance of the FBI, convene a grand jury to investigate and determine whether there was an obstruction of justice.”

Sacramentans have seen no public statement from Mr. Brown since these articles. Wonder how the obstruction of justice investigation is going?

However, the Bee reported on June 12th, the same day the Walpin ouster made national news, that St. Hope reached a severance settlement with former exec. director Maya of nearly $100,000, suggesting we will hear not another word out of him.

Those of us in Sac familiar with Johnson’s long record of misdeeds, alleged malfeasance and then settlements — starting with his playing days in Phoenix when he paid over $200k to a 16-yr-old alleging sexual misconduct–have grown used to stories of important people stepping up to bail out Johnson. However, the fact that Johnson’s problems are now linked directly to the White House is supremely troubling…I don’t want to believe President Obama is so susceptible to such bald cronyism, but it is hard to ignore the stench wafting over these actions. Senator Grassley is right to be pushing this.

TN Mom on June 15, 2009 at 6:54 PM

I am afraid this president is untouchable by the media or congress, regardless of who is in power. Only the voters can take care of this situation.

TexAz on June 15, 2009 at 7:32 PM

Messiah & Co. is so inept, they can’t even get away with this.

n0doz on June 15, 2009 at 7:47 PM

Let’s not hit the “impeachment” button yet, please. We aren’t a bunch of Kos Kids.

blueguitarbob on June 15, 2009 at 5:51 PM

Nixon was impeached under almost identical circumstances. Is the only real difference that the media likes Obama?

tom on June 15, 2009 at 7:47 PM

The Sacbee has completely ignored this story after covering it last year in depth except for one AP article they posted.

JeffinSac on June 15, 2009 at 7:54 PM

Nixon was impeached under almost identical circumstances. Is the only real difference that the media likes Obama?

tom on June 15, 2009 at 7:47 PM

Oops. Technically, Nixon resigned rather than be impeached. It seems like a small difference now, but it was apparently a significant enough difference for him to take the action.

tom on June 15, 2009 at 7:57 PM

Impeach?

Better think about that for a minute gang.

Can you think of anything scarier than President Biden???

alohapundit on June 15, 2009 at 8:12 PM

Time for an impeachment Czar.

JellyToast on June 15, 2009 at 8:39 PM

Actually, Hillary had a part in the Watergate Nixon thing. I think she was one of the young lawyers working against Nixon. This is where she could make a big impact for herself by resigning over this and demanding impeachment. She could then set herself up for a VP placement after Biden takes office. Biden then would not run again leaving Hilary to run in 2012. She would be the one that could possibly beat Palin.

JellyToast on June 15, 2009 at 8:42 PM

I just have one question…where do I signup for the revolution?

stacy on June 15, 2009 at 9:05 PM

If so, then the White House has abused its power on behalf of a campaign contributor and political ally — an act that would make Richard Nixon blush.

Yes, but Nixon wasn’t from Chicago.

njcommuter on June 15, 2009 at 9:29 PM

This is a big deal but the press, of course, will ignore it. Obama is covering up for a crooked friend, totally corrupt Kevin Johnson,who the IG was about to expose. Therefore, even though Walpin was protected by legislation, Obama broke the law to have him fired.

This is both covering up the commission of a crime and committing a second crime in so doing.

MaiDee on June 15, 2009 at 9:40 PM

Jake Tapper carries the water for all the other WH “journalists.”

mjbrooks3 on June 15, 2009 at 9:40 PM

Every day, I say “It can’t get any worse.” You’d think I’d have learned by now.

At the rate this administration is going, by day 200 they will have stabbed someone in an alley for their wallet.

Merovign on June 15, 2009 at 10:01 PM

Impeach?

Better think about that for a minute gang.

Can you think of anything scarier than President Biden???

alohapundit on June 15, 2009 at 8:12 PM

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

Impeach Obama. And when Biden royally screws it up (and he will) impeach him. And when Pelosi royally screws it up, impeach her.

We need to hold these folks accountable for their actions.

Chaz706 on June 15, 2009 at 10:10 PM

We need to hold these folks accountable for their actions.

Chaz706 on June 15, 2009 at 10:10 PM

In a perfect world where the media was actually fair, ok. But they agree with eveything the President does and would also agree with Biden, Pelosi, Reid, Clinton, et al. How would impeaching Messiah improve the country in any way shape or form? Instead of this we need to organize astro-turf roots (/sarc) and get real Constitutionalist conservative/libertarian people elected and throw these clowns out in 2010 a la 1994. Where is the new “Contract with America”? Where is the new focal point for American conservatives to rally around? Where is Steele/Romney/Palin/Newt/Huckabee on any of this? It’s one thing to preach to the choir (us), but the message needs to get out there to teach others why socialist and statist policies WILL bring about corruption, cronyism, and the suppression of any innovation of the highest order thereby bringing down or severely harming the greatest nation spawned by the most beautiful idea ever created by man (For the statist trolls out there I am talking about Freedom granted by the Creator to: life, liberty and the PURSUIT of happiness).

alohapundit on June 16, 2009 at 12:30 AM

Is this the hope and change we were promised, or is this just more of Chicago politics on the Potomac. Definitely a person who can no longer be trusted, and does not any criticism.

Daedalus on June 16, 2009 at 12:49 AM

Kevin Johnson is a black Democrat. Therefore, he is untouchable.

mr1216 on June 16, 2009 at 1:07 AM

… I seem to remember a guy named Nixon who got into trouble firing a prosecutor, albeit for the White House….

itsspideyman on June 16, 2009 at 3:09 AM

Finally, finally, finally, he has commited an impeachable offense. While I don’t think the current bunch of Republican ninny’s have the testosterone to do so, they can at least use Rep. Burton’s “Chinese Water Torture method” so prominently used during the Clinton administration to distract the White House and at least slow some of the economic madness down. Grassly is almost as big an idiot as Mitch McConnell, but he can be determined. Go after him Charles.

georgeofthedesert on June 16, 2009 at 9:03 AM

Obstruction of justice never looks good in a headline. The “severance agreement” sounds like “hush money” to me.

rockmom on June 16, 2009 at 9:24 AM

Sounds like the legal basis for impeachment.

federale86 on June 15, 2009 at 5:42 PM

The Obamatolla swore to “..preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” So far, he’s 0 for 3.

kayo on June 16, 2009 at 10:11 AM

In his world, the ‘ONE’ can hire and fire anyone he wants. He fires CEO’s and Presidents of private companies, and hires his friends into those vacant positions.

Of course he is showing his dearth of business acumen when he fires people on a Friday.

MSGTAS on June 16, 2009 at 10:21 AM

TexAz on June 15, 2009 at 7:32 PM

I’m afraid you’re correct. But, this is getting media exposure (of course, not msm), and maybe this will be yet another reason for folks to get out in 2010 and vote them all out.

4Freedom on June 16, 2009 at 11:13 AM

Hmmm, looking for the part that mentions that the acting US Attorney, Lawrence Brown, is also a Bush appointee . And since the decision not to press criminal charges was announced by the prior (also Bush-appointed) US Attorney in the first week of November, 2008, its unlikely, as implied, to have been the result of interference by the “Obama administration.”

Looking also for a mention of the fact that the Bush-appointed prosecutor has filed an official complaint over Walpin’s conduct in the Johnson case.

skylark on June 17, 2009 at 5:38 AM

Trying that link again.

If it still doesn’t work, google “lawrence brown letter kenneth kaiser walpin.”

skylark on June 17, 2009 at 5:52 AM

Nice touch on the “Grassely raising the possibility that Obama broke the law he co-sponsored” bit. Of course nothing in the Grassley letter or the related article actually says that.

Possibly you’re thinking of this comment by Sen. McCaskill:

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said the president failed to follow a law she sponsored, which requires that he give Congress 30 days advance notice of an inspector general’s dismissal, along with the cause for the firing. Obama merely said he had lost confidence in Walpin.

“Loss of confidence is not a sufficient reason,” McCaskill said. “I’m hopeful the White House will provide a more substantive rationale, in writing, as quickly as possible.”

Late Tuesday, Obama’s special counsel offered some details in a letter, saying Walpin engaged in “trouble and inappropriate conduct.”

Not quite the same, is it?

skylark on June 17, 2009 at 6:09 AM

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