Now Multiple IG-Gate Investigations
UPDATE: Grassley Eyes ‘RAT Board’
posted at 2:09 pm on June 25, 2009 by The Other McCain
One of the points emphasized in my special report at The American Spectator:
Those familiar with the investigations (and yes, that noun is plural) caution against personalizing or politicizing the situation. These sources are especially concerned that inquiries by Republican members of Congress should not be portrayed as a partisan “gotcha” game against the popular new president. . . .
Expect the IG situation at Amtrak to make news in the near future, and investigations continue into the ousting of the IGs at AmeriCorps and International Trade Commission, but there’s another IG story I’m watching closely:
Neil Barofsky is “SIGTARP,” the special investigator general whose job is to keep an eye on disbursement from the Troubled Assets Relief Program, the $3 trillion financial bailout that was rushed through Congress in October. Last week, Grassley sent a stern letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, asking about “a dispute over certain Treasury documents that were being withheld from SIGTARP auditors on a specious claim of attorney-client privilege.”
At stake in the TARP case — as in the cases of the IGs at Amtrak, AmeriCorps and the ITC — is whether the inspectors generals will remain vigilant watchdogs on behalf of taxpayers or become compliant lapdogs, allowing Obama’s political appointees to do as they wish without fear of independent scrutiny.
Given the controversial nature of the TARP — including the public outcry over bonuses paid to top employees of insurance giant AIG, a bailout beneficiary — Grassley is by no means the only member of Congress interested in preserving Barofsky’s independence. In April, Geithner was grilled by Texas Republican Rep. Jeb Hensarling and other members of Congress at a hearing after Barofsky reported a “staggering” amount of fraud in the bailout program.
Hensarling is one of the staunchest critics of TARP and, as ABC News reported last week, the Texan sent a letter to Elizabeth Warren, chairwoman of the congressional panel charged with overseeing the bailout, warning that Treasury’s actions were a “threat to [Barofksy’s] independence.” . . .
Please read the whole thing.
UPDATE: Pat in Shreveport:
One of the many things that concerns me about this story is that were it not for people like Stacy, Malkin, York and other diligent bloggers, it would likely be swept under the rug. There’s just so much else to talk about! Mark Sanford! Everyone loves a good sex scandal! An Argentina love affair with titillating emails! Sex sells, and that’s what will be all over the news today.
Hmmm. Need a sex angle? Amtrak general counsel Eleanor Acheson was Hillary Clinton’s college roommate. As Dan Riehl points out, before she joined Amtrak, Acheson was on the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Tuesday, “Eldie” Acheson spoke at the State Department’s gay pride celebration. No Argentina angle or titilating e-mails yet, but NTTAWWT.
UPDATE II: Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post admirably continues bird-dogging the story:
“I kind of get the impression that there’s kind of a crusade early on in this administration to, how would you say it, short circuit inspectors general,” Grassley said earlier this week during an interview.
Staffers for the Iowa Republican are seeking information into at least five alleged incidents of interference with inspectors general at Amtrak, the Corporation, the International Trade Commission, the Library of Congress and with the special inspector general for the Treasury Department’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP). . . .
In addition to the five inquiries, Grassley is also concerned with the establishment of the Recovery Act Transparency and Accountability (RAT) Board, the panel tasked with overseeing the distribution and use of economic stimulus dollars . . . an obscure part of its authorizing legislation . . . requires inspectors general seeking information on potential waste, fraud or abuse of economic stimulus dollars to clear such investigations with the board.
“I mean it’s irritating,” Grassley said, raising his voice, “for a president that ran on transparency and accountability. He ought to be encouraging all this stuff, not being seen as an impediment.”
Grassley’s not going to let go of this issue — the watchdog bulldog, as it were.
Recently in the Green Room: