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Documents Detail Case for Walpin's Dismissal

By Ed O'Keefe

Documents delivered to lawmakers this week expose a frequently confrontational and petty relationship over the past several years between officials at the Corporation for National and Community Service and the group's inspector general, Gerald Walpin. President Obama fired the Bush appointee last month, citing a lack of confidence.

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

Lawmakers almost immediately raised concerns with the dismissal, suggesting the White House failed to follow proper procedure in removing the Bush appointee and did not provide adequate reasons for the dismissal. The White House outlined its concerns in a letter to lawmakers, suggesting Walpin appeared confused, disoriented and unable to answer questions at a late May Corporation board meeting.

This week Corporation staffers delivered even more evidence suggesting a difficult working relationship with Walpin, sending the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee several e-mails, memos and even a mock newsletter for their review.

In an interview yesterday, Walpin once again suggested the agency’s claims lack merit and do little to build a case for his dismissal. He is scheduled to be interviewed today by Senate committee staffers, according to the panel’s spokeswoman.

Among the documents is a May 2008 parody newsletter published by staff members in Walpin’s office and approved by him as a goodbye gift for a retiring assistant inspector general. The newsletter contained several fake news articles, including two with racial and sexual jokes referencing the federal procurement process and the government’s use of set-aside programs for minorities and disabled veterans.

One article references former New York governor Eliot Spitzer’s admitted use of a prostitution service “that specializes in the procurement of blonds, brunettes and redheads.” Another suggested the associate had “finally procured her Federal retirement” from a vendor “known to be owned and operated by a qualified-minority-female-veteran-disabled person.”

An employee later complained about the newsletter to agency management who then addressed the matter with Walpin. The former inspector general never issued a warning nor took disciplinary action with regard to the matter, according to Corporation officials.

Walpin said that his staff had enjoyed the newsletter’s humor and that no one had directly complained about its content. He acknowledged he spoke with the Corporation’s general counsel about the complaints, but took no disciplinary actions related to the newsletter because “I still don’t see where it’s objectionable.”

The agency also provided a series of memos from January 2009 regarding an equal opportunity complaint filed against Walpin’s office. He raised several procedural questions and suggested the investigation was handled unfairly, before admitting in a late January e-mail, “I had no prior experience and therefore no knowledge of the procedure.”

Walpin said he cooperated fully with the investigation, but objected to its focus and said investigators mishandled transcripts of his testimony related to the complaint.

Corporation officials also once again provided lawmakers with Walpin’s May 2008 report to Congress regarding the Justice Department’s settlement with former NBA player Kevin Johnson and his Sacramento-based St. Hope Academy. Walpin’s initial investigation into the nonprofit’s misuse of AmeriCorps grants led to a legal settlement earlier this Spring between Johnson, the academy and the U.S. attorney’s office in Sacramento. The Corporation alleges that Walpin’s 166-page report unfairly characterized the settlement and omitted key pieces of information.

“That is a job of the IG, to comment on what the IG thinks is the most efficient use of the money,” Walpin said yesterday, admitting he had frequent disagreements with agency leadership.

By Ed O'Keefe  | July 1, 2009; 5:42 AM ET
Categories:  Administration, Agencies and Departments, Oversight  
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Comments

"Documents delivered to lawmakers this week expose a frequently confrontational and petty relationship over the past several years between officials at the Corporation for National and Community Service"

I would imagine things would get confrontational if the guy is exposing fraud in the agency. But wasn't that his job?

Posted by: souperbad | July 1, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

So where are the ‘documents that detail the case for Walpin’s dismissal’? If the material hyperlinked in this story is all you’ve got you might want to re-title the story: “Desperate CNCS Staff and Biased Post Blogger Scrape up Thin ‘Evidence’ Against Walpin”.

The parody ‘newsletter’ is just that, a parody. Be assured that thousands of business owners competing in the world of government contracts, and the government procurement officers who write the RFP’s, would consider this newsletter damned funny and not the least bit objectionable! What IS objectionable is the manner in which you try to sensationalize it. Since when does use of the word “minority” in satire constitute a “racial joke”? The decision to include in this story the implication that Inspector Walpin made or approved of the making of a “racial joke” is despicable.

Regarding the Jan 09 memos between Walpin and CNCS CEO, Nicola Goren, is this supposed to be some kind of smoking gun? Should we be surprised that there was contentiousness between the IG and the agency he provides oversight for? These memos can hardly be said to ‘detail the case for Walpin’s dismissal’. And once again, bias rears its ugly head with the sentence:

“He raised several procedural questions and suggested the investigation was handled unfairly, before admitting in a late January e-mail, “I had no prior experience and therefore no knowledge of the procedure.”

Like the “racial joke” contrivance, this is nothing more than an attempted hatchet job. To the casual reader who doesn’t open, read, and UNDERSTAND all the memos this sounds like Walpin “admitted” that he was wrong and that he didn’t know what he was talking about, which is the exact opposite of the truth! Walpin did not “admit” anything; he STATED that “I had no prior experience and therefore no knowledge of the procedure”. He was referring to the equal opportunity complaint being the first he’s had to deal with and therefore had no prior experience dealing with them. For anyone who comprehends these memos it is abundantly clear that the one person who knows EXACTLY what he’s talking about is IG Walpin. The concerns he expresses and the recommendations he offers are clearly articulated, well-reasoned, and legally sound. He conducted himself in this exchange exactly like an Inspector General should.

I think it’s safe to say that CNCS and White House operatives have expended considerable staff resources over the last two weeks desperately trying to dig up something, ANYTHING that could possibly make Walpin look bad. And if this is all they could come up with I’d say Walpin has won another round.

TXPatriot512

Posted by: TXPatriot512 | July 2, 2009 4:28 AM | Report abuse

The President has no authority to fire an Inspector General. That's the law.
The Obama Administration wants to blast Honduras for ousting their President, even though the Supreme Court found that he was in violation of its Constitution. You can argue that maybe they should have just arrested him and given him his "due process". Whatever position you take on this situation, you can see the double speak coming out of the White House. No "due process" or complete violation of the laws of America.

Posted by: slake2 | July 2, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

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