Obama has fired 2 IGs in 2 weeks, leashed another
posted at 8:47 am on June 18, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
The firing of Gerald Walpin as Inspector General was not an isolated incident, as the Chicago Tribune reports today. Two more IGs have been dismissed in the past two weeks, and Senator Charles Grassley has started demanding answers. The sudden push to rid the government of independent watchdogs appears to coincide with Barack Obama’s plans to use government spending to get control over more aspects of American life, such as with stimulus spending, the financial sector, and volunteer organizations (via Dan Riehl):
He was appointed with fanfare as the public watchdog over the government’s multi-billion dollar bailout of the nation’s financial system. But now Neil Barofsky is embroiled in a dispute with the Obama administration that delayed one recent inquiry and sparked questions about his ability to freely investigate.
The disagreement stems from a claim by the Treasury Department that Barofsky is not entirely independent of the agency he is assigned to examine — a claim that has prompted a stern letter from a Republican senator warning that agency officials are encroaching on the integrity of an office created to protect taxpayers. …
The dispute comes as Grassley, ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is looking into the abrupt firings within the last week of two other inspectors general ¿ one of whom was fired by the White House and the other by the chair of the International Trade Commission.
Both inspectors general had investigated sensitive subjects at the time of their firings.
Grassley is now concerned about whether a pattern is emerging in which the independence of the government’s top watchdogs — whose jobs were authorized by Congress to look out for waste, fraud and abuse — is being put at risk.
The positions themselves indicate where the White House wants to go with its efforts. Barofsky ruffled feathers in April when his watchdog report showed that the Obama administration had placed insufficient safeguards on Porkulus spending. This later caused Joe Biden to shrug and tell the media, “Some people are being scammed already,” as if it wasn’t the job of the administration to stop it from happening. Barofsky now has a leash around his neck, with the White House insisting that he answers only to Treasury.
We’ve already covered the case of Gerald Walpin, whose work brought him into conflict with Obama crony Kevin Johnson, now the mayor of Sacramento. The White House and Johnson claim that there is no connection between the two, but this video from Naked Emperor News tells another story:
Walpin stands between the White House and their desire to use AmeriCorps as a reward system for their political allies and to use government money for the kind of “community organizing” that put Obama in the White House. His report to Congress made that difficult in Sacramento, where Mayor Johnson had been blocked from receiving federal grant money for his admitted earlier fraud. Walpin’s independence had to be removed, and in this case, Walpin had to be smeared to make it stick.
The third incident came last week at the International Trade Commission, where Judith Gwynne worked independent of the White House, and which will be a critical position as Obama reshapes trade arrangements around the world. An ITC employee earlier this year “forcibly removed” paperwork from Gwynne. Rather than back the IG after Grassley wrote a letter demanding answers, the political appointees at the ITC dumped her.
We are seeing a pattern, no longer just a single data point. IGs work independently to protect taxpayers from corruption and abuse from its own government agencies. A coordinated attack on IGs certainly suggests hostility to that mission, which isn’t the Hope and Change Obama promised on the campaign trail.