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Report: Rhee spoke to feds on Johnson's behalf

D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee had several conversations last year with a federal inspector general investigating Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson for alleged financial misconduct and inappropriate behavior with female students at a charter school he operated, The Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

The paper said Rhee, who once served on the board of the St. Hope school, spoke on behalf of Johnson-- whom she is now engaged to-- calling him "a good guy."

Rhee's previously undisclosed involvement in the investigation is described in a 62-page congressional report on the White House's firing earlier this year of Gerald Walpin, the inspector general for the Corporation for National and Community Service. The report is scheduled to be released today by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif) and Sen Charles E.Grassley (R-Iowa).

Johnson has not been charged with any crimes. Republicans contend that Walpin's firing was politically motivated because Johnson, a former NBA star with the Phoenix Suns, was a high-profile supporter of President Obama. Administration officials said the corporation board had lost confidence in Walpin, 78, who appeared confused and disoriented at a May board meeting. The paper said Walpin is receiving free legal help from a conservative public relations firm associated with the "swift boat" ads that attacked Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry in the 2004 campaign.

The report includes a 30-page criminal referral Walpin prepared for the U.S. attorney in Sacramento in August 2008. It described three allegations of inappropriate actions on Johnson's part involving a female minor, who reported being fondled, and two young volunteers, who reported that Johnson went to their apartment and climbed into bed with one of them. Federal and local officials declined to prosecute on the basis of the information in the referral
According to The Times, Rhee met with St. Hope teacher Jacqueline Wong-Hernandez after hearing the allegations and promised to "take care of the situation." Wong-Hernandez said she was later called to a meeting with Johnson and one of the alleged victims and was told by Johnson that he and the 18-year-old girl had spoken privately and "everything was OK between them." Wong-Hernandez left St. Hope in June 2007, telling Rhee that the handling of the incident was a major reason.

Phone and e-mail messages to Rhee's office had not been returned at midday.

Walpin began the probe in 2008, centered on what happened to $848,000 in grants and payments to Johnson's school, St. Hope, from AmeriCorps, the national service organization overseen by the corporation.

Bill Turque

By Bill Turque  |  November 20, 2009; 11:18 AM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque , Education  
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Read the Examiner as well. The examiner has been covering the Americorp scandal for quite sometime.

According to Sacramento sources there has been more than one allegation. Imagine that! The chancellor is engaged to an alleged child molester and she participated in the cover up.

THIS IS THE PERSON MAKING DECISONS FOR OUR CHILDREN? WOW! She may be putting her own in harms way!

When will the FEDS audit the books? When will anti-deficiency be addressed? Rhee is as guilty as Wepman.

Just one more reason to get rid of Fenty. Perhaps Rhee will leave first! Wouldn't that make a lovely Thanksgiving?

Posted by: candycane1 | November 20, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Hey Bill
Will the WP give you the front page on this? It should be.

Posted by: candycane1 | November 20, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

The report has been floating around for some time as to what Johnson did in Phoenix. The girl was sixteen. The sad part is that NO ONE at any major publication has paid attention to it.

Posted by: southyrndiva | November 20, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

This is one messy story – Now she’s got US senators and representatives butting heads with each other and the President over her. I guess the DC City Council was getting to be small potatoes for Rhee. I wonder if her “No Kowtowing” rule will apply to a congressional investigation.

Let’s see - the Republicans like her because she’s a union buster and may have had a hand in getting the White House to hastily and wrongfully fire a federal official. Democrats like her because she’s a Democrat (though she almost voted for McCain), appointed by one Democratic mayor to improve education for inner-city children and she’s engaged to a another Democratic mayor, who unfortunately may be a child molester.

Only two things are obvious to me at this juncture: 1) The attempt to write off 78 year old, Republican-appointed Walpin as an Alzheimer’s patient ultimately is creepy and 2) A quickie Rhee-Johnson wedding would make it impossible for them to testify against each other.

Posted by: efavorite | November 20, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

efavorite, your #2 point is well taken. I love it. It was suppose to be a long engagement, but I read somewhere this week were the power couple will be discussing a wedding date over the weekend.

KJ and Lil Rhee-Rhee must have seen todays big story coming and court time in the near future.

Posted by: shank2sb | November 20, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

This story isn't new by any means. When she was pushing St. Hopes as an educational management organization (EMO)on several DC high schools the PTA at Eastern did a very thorough investigation on him and his non-profit. Due to the non-stop questioning of Rhee's office about Mr. Johnson's past wrong-doing, Ms. Rhee decided to personally attend his presentation at Eastern. Note, this was the only school she visited during the EMO courting process. She called the PTA leadership "attitudinal" when introducing them to her "secret" beau. Hmm.....

Posted by: hrhjcg | November 20, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Hey Bill
Will the WP give you the front page on this? It should be.

Posted by: candycane1 | November 20, 2009 1:09 PM
No way. The only way I found this article was through another article.

This looks like a story the Washington Post would rather forget about. The Washington Post is going to find this difficult since the New York Times will probably pick up the story.

Posted by: bsallamack | November 20, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

I figure Wapo will have to run the story now that the LA Times has covered it and the Feds are issuing a report.

The Examiner and the Sacramento Bee aren't big enough to bother about, I'm guessing, not to mention the news wasn't friendly enough to cover.

I'm waiting for the editorial on this. I bet it will qualify for a Pulitzer creative writing award.

Posted by: efavorite | November 20, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

bsallamack: They might as well face the music. If you google KJ when the first allegation was made in Arizona, you can get the taped conversation that the police had of KJ and the 16 yr old. He implicates himself totally. That happened in the 90's. It's not new, it's well documented.

She can't keep perpetrating the fraud of being America's change agent with this on her head. Same national bashing she gave she needs to receive.

Posted by: candycane1 | November 20, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Put a fork in Michelle Rhee because she is DONE!!!!
Teachers everywhere are DANCING!!!!

Posted by: edukder | November 20, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Put a fork in Michelle Rhee because she is DONE!!!!
Teachers everywhere are DANCING!!!!

Posted by: edukder | November 20, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

This really needs to hit the front page of WaPo, not be buried here under the DC Wire column. Michelle Rhee is as dirty as they come and she better have the best interests of her own children at heart instead of defending an alleged child molester. So this is the person we have running our school system? They say that cream rises to the top but let's also remember that feces floats.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | November 20, 2009 6:58 PM | Report abuse

HOLY WOW! She just gets digs her hole deeper and deeper...but this is karma, no?

Posted by: ame_hr | November 20, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Her Chancellorship can explain the "added value" Kevin Johnson brought to the students of St. Hope Charter School. Any instructive and illuminating anecdotes come to mind?

Posted by: GoDoZo | November 20, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

I don't think other news sources will pick this up, since so many have been showering praise on her. I know Newsweek and Time won't be picking up on it.

Posted by: resc | November 20, 2009 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Page A10 New York Times Saturday, November 21st or go online at

Of course the Post won't write about this in their pages until forced to do so. And even then...

Posted by: adcteacher1 | November 21, 2009 12:02 AM | Report abuse

This made the Washington Times:

and the conservative website, Freerepublic.

Posted by: edlharris | November 21, 2009 12:51 AM | Report abuse

Take back The Washington Post. It only masquerades as a real newspaper.

Where is the story on this Bill in today's paper. Everyone is covering this story in their newspapers. I can't believe it could only get coverage on this blog. Time to hang up your hat and apply for a job elsewhere. Shame on you WaPo !

Posted by: teacherspet | November 21, 2009 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the links.

From the NYT report: "The White House has said Mr. Walpin was fired because he was incompetent and had behaved bizarrely, while Mr. Walpin and some Republicans have suggested he was fired because he had uncovered embarrassing problems in the AmeriCorps program."

I suspect it's some of both - Walpin acted oddly at the meeting and Walpin uncovered problems for Johnson.

The Wash Times reports: A St. Hope teacher who resigned over the incident said “St. Hope sought to intimidate the student through an illegal interrogation and even had the audacity to ask me to change my story."

Does this sound familiar to anyone who’s ever challenged the Chancellor or her minions?

Posted by: efavorite | November 21, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse

I would appreciate it if the Washington Post Editorial Board would comment on this. I know they have supported Michelle Rhee's actions in the past and I would like to know how they would respond to her covering up Kevin Johnson's behavior.

Posted by: resc | November 21, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone look at the Washington Post metro section today? It was six pages, about four of them devoted to religion and to obituaries.

The good thing about this is that the Washington Post does not matter much any mroe.

what matters is the blogosphere...

Posted by: tm7333 | November 21, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

"Walpin began the probe in 2008, centered on what happened to $848,000 in grants and payments to Johnson's school, St. Hope, from AmeriCorps, the national service organization overseen by the corporation."

The WaPo has been trying to hide this story since last summer when the White House improperly fired Mr. Walpin. It's hitting the major front pages now, so it creeps into the bloggy swamps of the Post where few will see it.
Some responsible media has had chapter and verse on this one for months.

Johnson repaid the $848K he embezzled. The controversy was over whether he would be personally "suspended" from receiving federal funds. That became a problem after he was elected Mayor of Sacramento, because it would have precluded the Democratic-majority city from receiving stimulus funding.
Johnson was a contributor to and major supporter of Barack Obama. Strings were pulled, he was un-"suspended," Walpin complained and was subsequently fired.

There is corruption from Sea to Shining Sea with Chicago in the middle. The nerve center is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Now it spreads to DC government and the Fenty Administration. So what else is new?

Posted by: parkbench | November 22, 2009 2:02 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the wsj link, parkbench. It's to an June 17th editorial (i.e., opinion - not reporting) that completely leaves out the part about Walpin acting strangely at a meeting.

This is certainly an interesting, messy story that could use more clear, in-depth investigation, which I trust Bill Turque is doing right now.

Posted by: efavorite | November 22, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Go to the Sac Bee, search Kevin Johnson and then pull up the story dated 11/20 Accuser says she was offered $1000. The PDF of complete congressional report, Walpin's complete report recommending criminal charges regarding the money.

Posted by: candycane1 | November 22, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Kevin J and Michelle Rhee-Rhee and Andie Fenty and main character Barack O are really selling blacks down the tube and we will never see a BLACK president in America if these cover-ups do not abate.

As a black person who loves humor I find this story depressing and repulsive in nature and again, a few well-heeled blacks sell us back to "da man aka slaveholder" and I am not an anabler of slavery willingly are you blackbloggers?

Posted by: foxxmacpryor | November 23, 2009 8:15 AM | Report abuse

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