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Lawmakers Question Obama's Dismissal of AmeriCorps IG

By Ed O'Keefe

FINAL UPDATE TO THIS POST:

Read the White House's justifications for the dismissal in this new post.

UPDATE 7:10 p.m. ET:

In a statement, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) says, "The White House has failed to follow the proper procedure in notifying Congress as to the removal of the Inspector General for the Corporation for National and Community Service. The legislation which was passed last year requires that the president give a reason for the removal. ‘Loss of confidence’ is not a sufficient reason. I’m hopeful the White House will provide a more substantive rationale, in writing, as quickly as possible."

McCaskill was the lead Senate sponsor on the Inspectors General Act of 2008 and is a loyal supporter and friend of President Obama. Her statement is the first significant sign of Democratic concern with this matter.

UPDATE 5:02 p.m. ET:

Lawmakers of both parties on both sides of Capitol Hill have been in touch with the White House regarding Walpin's dismissal, according to several sources. Staffers with the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the House Oversight Committees are investigating the matter and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is also expected to issue a statement shortly.

EARLIER UPDATE:

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has asked the White House to provide information on Walpin's termination by June 26. Issa is most interested in a phone call Walpin received last Wednesday informing him of his termination. (See more on this below.)

"Providing material responsive to the above requests will represent an affirmative
step toward fulfilling the President's commitment to create "an unprecedented level of
openness in government," Issa wrote Monday in a letter to White House counsel Gregory Craig.

ORIGINAL POST:

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) has demanded that the Corporation for National and Community Service provide "any and all records, e-mail, memoranda, documents, communications, or other information" related to President Obama's no-confidence dismissal last week of the Corporation's inspector general Gerald Walpin, including any communications with aides to the president and first lady Michelle Obama.

Gerald Walpin
Former Corporation for National and Community Service Inspector General Gerald Walpin. (AP Photo)

Walpin, a registered Republican, was appointed to the post in 2007 by President George W. Bush after spending more than 30 years as a federal prosecutor and private attorney in New York City. The Corporation's board chairman Alan Solomont, a Democrat, and vice chairman Stephen Goldsmith, a Republican, strongly endorsed Obama's decision.

"In light of the removal of the Inspector General, it is vital that Congress obtain a full understanding of the role that you and your colleagues at CNCS played in these matters," Grassley wrote in his letter to Solomont, requesting he provide the information by Friday.

The Iowa Republican wants to determine if Corporation officials said anything to White House staffers about Walpin's tenure in an attempt to get him fired, according to a spokeswoman for the senator. Grassley's interest in Mrs. Obama's potential involvement comes as recent reports suggest she is involved in key decisions at the Corporation. The first lady's former chief of staff Jackie Norris was given a position as a senior adviser to the Corporation, which she is scheduled to begin next week.

The White House would not comment yesterday on the specifics of Walpin's departure, but did refute the reports regarding the first lady.

"Mrs. Obama is an energetic advocate for the mission of the Corporation for National and Community Service, but is not involved in the day-to-day management of the agency,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

"The President will appoint a replacement in whom he has full confidence as the Corporation carries out its important mission," he later said.

In an interview Monday, Walpin defended his office's work and said he fears his dismissal will impact other inspectors general.

"This is an attack upon the independence of inspectors general generally," he said. "The . . . effect of this, if this is allowed to stand, is going to be immense in chilling the responsibility and actions of inspectors general to do their independent investigations," he said.

The controversy surrounding Walpin's dismissal stems from a 2008 investigation into the potential misuse of federal grants provided by AmeriCorps to the St. HOPE Academy of Sacramento, Calif. The group was founded in 1989 by former NBA star Kevin Johnson, who is now mayor of Sacramento and also is an Obama supporter.

Walpin's investigation concluded Johnson and a colleague had misused grant funding totaling approximately $850,000 on six occasions. He referred the findings to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Sacramento and government lawyers later decided not to press criminal charges. In a settlement reached earlier this year, Johnson and St. HOPE officials agreed to repay half of the grants it received from AmeriCorps.

The settlement angered Walpin, who complained that his office was not consulted after referring the case to the U.S. attorney's office. Following the settlement, acting U.S. attorney Lawrence G. Brown, also appointed by Bush, raised concerns about Walpin's conduct during the Johnson investigation with the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, an independent entity charged with investigating complaints against government watchdogs.

Brown alleged in a letter to the council that Walpin selectively withheld key information from the U.S. Attorney's Office and claimed that the IG's comments to the news media hampered his office's investigation.

In a lengthy response, Walpin refuted Brown's charges and urged the council to dismiss them, arguing they had no merit. The panel is expected to decide later this week if he committed any wrongdoing.

“I was basically fired because I was doing my job," Walpin said Monday, claiming President Obama dismissed him without specific cause.

Walpin learned of the president's decision last Wednesday evening in a telephone call from the White House counsel's office. He assumed the call was related to recent conversations with White House staffers about publicly supporting Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court, he said.

In 1998, Walpin issued a brief to the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of her nomination to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and White House staffers had asked him in recent weeks about issuing a similar statement again, he said. Walpin said he still supports Sotomayor's nomination and said he still plans to issue a statement of support. The White House was checking Walpin's claims and could not immediately provide a comment.

In his letter to Obama, Grassley suggested the president violated provisions of the Inspector General Act of 2008 that require the president to inform Congressional leaders in writing of any plans to dismiss an IG at least 30 days before doing so.

"I was troubled to learn that...your staff reportedly issued an ultimatum to the Americorps Inspector General Gerald Walpin that he had one hour to resign or be terminated," Grassley wrote in regards to the Wednesday evening phone call. White House officials insist the phone was meant as a courtesy to inform Walpin of the president's final decision. Walpin is on suspension with pay until his termination takes effect in mid-July.

By Ed O'Keefe  | June 16, 2009; 11:37 AM ET
Categories:  Oversight, Supreme Court  
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Comments

Interesting that the Post buries this coverage in a blog. If this had happened under the previous administration, this would have been front-page news.

Posted by: tomtildrum | June 16, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Why aren't you investigating this and reporting on it? When the previous administration fired some top attorney's from the DOJ is was a huge story . . how about a little balance?

Posted by: sarno | June 16, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I am not surprised that this "local" paper buries this and every other damming peice of information about Obama deep in the bowels of the newspaper. The Washington Post should represent all views not just the liberal Democrats view, but alas it has become a local paper dedicated to sucking up to Obama. It is sickening to pick up this rag and see another fluff peice praising Obama and his democrat cronies. Every day we move closer and closer to marxism and socialism and unfortunately this paper is pushing his agenda.

Posted by: rosecoloredglasses1 | June 16, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

It also seems that the only news network that is unbiased enough to even mention this story and go after Obama is Fox News. I suggest we all tune out the democrat news media like NBC, CBS and ABC, along with this paper and tune in Fox so we can get both sides of the story. The are the only media that is not kissing the hem of the Obama's garmet.

Posted by: rosecoloredglasses1 | June 16, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

This man was dismissed with cause. That is nothing remotely like the US Attorneys controversy. Lawrence Brown is acting US Attorney, appointed by President Bush, and he initiated the complaint to the council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency. His letter raises serious concerns about Walpin's actions and provides evidence. Read it.
If you folks would just read the facts instead of always lashing out with a knee-jerk party line outbursts, you may come to realize that there are incompetent bureaucrats in both parties.

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | June 16, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Day after day after day, Hopebama shows his true colors by abrogating every important campaign promise.
This latest by The Annointed One releases a stench virtually beyond human endurance.

Posted by: ronaldoroso | June 16, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Apparently people here don't understand the difference between the IG of the AmeriCorp and a U.S District Attorney. One is extremely important, one isn't at all

Posted by: maurban | June 16, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Post is a disgrace for not covering this story more. Obama violated the law by pressuring Walpin to quit. What he did violated the law passed in 2008. Lawrence Brown is not a republican -- he was a career DOJ employee who was temporary put in their after the Bush appointee left. He wants to curry favor with the current administration, and was covering up for corrupt politicians. Brown refused to prosecute an obvious case of fraud and abuse of taxpayer money. As Kevin Johnson promised, but has not repaid the money he owes the taxpayer, he is in default and is still not being charged. This is worse than cronyism, but the Washington Post is the truly shamed party in burying this story. I suppose their reporters are still going through garbage cans in Wasilla instead of reporting on this Watergate coverup.

Posted by: Cornell1984 | June 16, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Let's see... the original community organizer does not have confidence in the IG for national and community service. I'll bet he has a good reason.

Posted by: YoungAtheart | June 16, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

lostinthemiddle = lostinspace

Dismissed with cause? In the future, may I ask that you don't drink and type at the same time. I like how you read the US DA's CYA "letter", but you obviously didn't read the IG's (who was a fomer USADA) letter.

The "acting" US DA was caught sitting on an investigation for six months. He himself told the IG it was "sensitive", i.e. needed to be buried. (no doubt because he is hoping to be named "real" DA and didn't want to upset the apple cart).

So, lostinspace, what exactly was cause here?

Posted by: culaxman | June 16, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Talk about lame coverage of a news worthy item. No wonder patrons are leaving your paper in droves. Your paper and its reporters are not doing their job. The Washington Post has no legit excuse for not informing the American people about what is going on here. Shame on you!

http://spectator.org/blog/2009/06/16/this-makes-travelgate-look-tam

What good are ya if you cannot even report the basic facts? Americans should relegate your biased paper and its selective omissions to house training puppys. I will never read it again! YUCK!

Posted by: skills1 | June 16, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

I demand to know why this Bush stooge still had a job after Obama won the election. Go cry a river on Faux News.

Posted by: August30 | June 16, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

August30 perhaps Obama or Michelle could appoint one of their cronies to be IG. They just tabbed Michelle Obama's chief of staff Jackie Norris to become a senior adviser to the Corporation for National and Community Service. Another community organizer to dole out billions of taxpayers hard earned tax dollars to all of the Obama's pet community projects. Obviously they will have no honest IG overseeing the spending of billions. Walpin found corruption and mis use of funds by one of Obama's pals and was fired for it.

Posted by: rosecoloredglasses1 | June 16, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that the right is so caught up on this story, but were dead silent when Cheney and Bush didnt want a 9/11 truth commission, then only agreed to testify if it wasnt under oath or with a transcript. And Cheney still wont release who was in his Energy meeting in March 01. But a mayor misusing funds gets them all riled up. So getting to the bottom of why we were attacked and why our energy prices are sky high doesnt bother them but a mayor misusing funds makes them foam at the mouth. Interesting.........

Posted by: rharring | June 16, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

COME ON PEOPLE - OVOMIT IS *PAYING HIS DEBTS* TO PEOPLE LIKE THIS BLK POS Kevin Johnson. THE MAN FIRED KNOWS WHAT OVOMIT IS DOING AND WAS FIRED FOR IT.......OVOMIT YOU ARE A SLIMEBALL DIRTY POS!

Posted by: Sparky15 | June 16, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Bush and Cheney did in fact meet with the 911 truth commiaaion on April 30 2004 and answered every question posed. What the liberals and the liberal media wants to overlook is that Bush and Cheney managed to keep the terriorists from attacking America again after that. Do I feel that safe with Obama at the helm....NO, especially when Obama stands before the World and apologizes for our response to 911 and the killing of thousands of innocent Americans by the hand of terriorists. Let's talk about that!

Posted by: rosecoloredglasses1 | June 16, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse

So the dishonest slug in the White House wants to fire an IG for doing his job and finding that an Obama supporter was misusing our taxpayer dollars.
With the IG gone, who is watching over the sleazes in Americorps and ACORN?
Wonder why this isn't a news item on the front page.
Oh, yes. It's because it would reflect negatively on the messiah...that paragon of integrity and open government.
How contemptible.

Posted by: LarryG62 | June 16, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse

LarryG62, what else can we expect from Obama, he is a community organizer and that is all he has ever been. He got his start with ACORN and no matter how much corruption is associated with ACORN and Americorps he is going to protect them. This it the leader of the greatest nation on earth. His teachings are based from a socialist background and gets his inspiration from the koran. God help us.

Posted by: rosecoloredglasses1 | June 16, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

In Obama's own words "We could be the greatest muslum nation on earth" Look it up....Yep that is what I want America to be.

Posted by: rosecoloredglasses1 | June 16, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

This should be a stark object lesson that rules are made for the office of the President, not The President. The rule on review of firing was passed to punish GWB and now is biting our President in the butt.

The Congress and President should understand that every onerous rule they pass or action taken can be turned against the present office holders. Every investigation on "war crimes" or "fiscal malfeasance" will now certainly be visited against the past Congressional and Admistrative leaders if they are out of office.

This AG action sure smells like the "TravelGate" event when the Clintons fired long time public servants and hired family. I would sure hate to find out the First Lady was involved.

The lesson is that no matter how much political hay you think you are making, decency will always win out. You aren't as protected as you think you are and the past folks aren't as powerless as you think they are.

Posted by: tommariner | June 16, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

"lostinthemiddle = lostinspace

Dismissed with cause? In the future, may I ask that you don't drink and type at the same time. I like how you read the US DA's CYA "letter", but you obviously didn't read the IG's (who was a fomer USADA) letter.

The "acting" US DA was caught sitting on an investigation for six months. He himself told the IG it was "sensitive", i.e. needed to be buried. (no doubt because he is hoping to be named "real" DA and didn't want to upset the apple cart).

So, lostinspace, what exactly was cause here?

Posted by: culaxman | June 16, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse
"
__________________________________

Oh, aren't you the clever one. Using third-grade name calling to belittle my opinion.

The cause was discussing the details of an ongoing investigation with the press, and defying orders not to discuss the details of an ongoing investigation with the press.
In addition, he apparently has some sort of cognitive impairment which has lead those for whom he worked to lose confidence in his ability to do his job.

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | June 17, 2009 12:25 AM | Report abuse

Obama was a member of ACORN. ACORN has a history of screwing the public out of their own money so members of their mob can have it instead.

Posted by: luncheaterguy | June 18, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Here is a link to Glenn Beck's interview with Gerald Walpin yesterday. He looks as sharp as a tack to me, so I don't get the BS about senility the Pres is trying to spin on this:

http://hotair.com/archives/2009/06/17/sweet-glenn-beck-gives-gerald-walpin-a-senility-test/

Here is the link for 2 MORE IG's the Pres has suppressed during the last 2 weeks:

http://hotair.com/archives/2009/06/18/obama-has-fired-2-igs-in-2-weeks-leashed-another/

We will have to decide if we live in a democracy, or a Chicago style Thugocracy.

Posted by: DL13 | June 18, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Okay ladies and gentlemen "Here is your Sign"
THe President and Mrs Obama and all their lil staff members are so arrogant that they think they run things not the American people. We hired them, we pay their wages, that airplane they love to waste gas with to have a date night with, American people own and pay for the operation of it. They are trying to pass a bunch of laws that will take away our freedoms and they are doing it 90 miles a min. We have to remind them who they work for and what rules they must abide by " The Constitution" They start firing people and hiring Czars just to get around congress approvings, DOES THAT NOT RING some Bells People. WAKE UP AMERICA!!! Does it not look like a possible Dictatorship trying to rise it nasty head? They already bust with pride with having ABC in their pocket....HELLO!!!!!!

Posted by: nickinotes | June 21, 2009 6:15 AM | Report abuse

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