New documents have been released on the firing of Inspector General Gerald Walpin by the Obama White House. This is a long and convoluted story, and I have linked to all the relevant background at the bottom of this article.
Here's the short story before the new information below:
(1) Inspectors General work independently from the White House and can only be fired after certain Senate-mandated procedures are followed. The Obama White House ignored those procedures.
(2) Gerald Walpin's investigation into AmeriCorp found $75 million misused by the organization.
(3) Gerald Walpin's investigation found that AmeriCorp had allowed former NBA star and current Mayor of Sacramento, Kevin Johnson to divert funds from AmeriCorp for his own personal use. Johnson was the founder of the St. Hope Academy, a non-profit organization, and further found that Mr. Johnson was accused of inappropriate behavior with three young girls. Last week, it was revealed by a former St. Hope employee that Michelle Rhee, the current Chancellor of the Washington, D.C. schools, served on the board of St. Hope. When one of the girls made accusations against Johnson, Rhee allegedly told the employee she "would take care of it." Rhee and Johnson are recently engaged to be married. And, of course, Kevin Johnson is said to be personal friends with Obama and a donor.
Here's the latest from Byron York at the Washington Examiner:
Pressed for the reason Walpin was fired, Eisen [special counsel] told House and Senate aides that the White House conducted an "extensive review" of complaints about Walpin’s performance before deciding to dismiss him. According to the new report, Eisen told Congress that "his investigation into the merits of removing Gerald Walpin involved contacting members of the Corporation for National and Community Service [CNCS] board to confirm the existence of a 'consensus' in favor of removal." But Republican investigators later discovered that during that "extensive review," the White House did not even seek the views of the corporation's board -- the very people whose "consensus" purportedly led to Walpin's firing.
Other than board chairman Alan Solomont, the Democratic mega-donor and Obama supporter who originally told the White House of his dissatisfaction with Walpin, "no member of the CNCS board had any substantive input about whether the removal of Gerald Walpin was appropriate," according to the report. Only one other board member, vice-chairman Stephen Goldsmith, was even called by the White House, and that was on June 10, a few hours before Walpin was fired. According to the report, Goldsmith told investigators that "the White House had already decided to remove Walpin and wanted to confirm [Goldsmith's] support for the action."Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Rep Darrell Issa (R-CA) have been on this from the beginning and are determined to see that the integrity of the Inspectors General program does not become a political puppet. Read York's entire story here.
The new documents show the White House scrambling, in the days after the controversy erupted, to put together a public explanation for the firing. On June 11, less than 24 hours after Walpin received the call from Eisen, the board held a conference call. The next day, Ranit Schmelzer, who is part of the corporation's press office, sent an email to board members giving them talking points to use if contacted by reporters seeking information about the matter.
"Indicate that you support the president's decision to remove IG Walpin," was Schmelzer's first instruction to the board. Then: "If asked why he was removed, indicate that the president lost confidence in Mr. Walpin." And then: "If the reporter continues to press, say that you can't get into details on a personnel matter, but you understand there were some performance-based issues." Finally, Schmelzer advised the board to avoid "getting into any specifics about IG Walpin's performance-based issues. The WH has stayed away from this and has counseled us to do the same."
Related and Background:
Kevin Johnson - St. Hope Scandal: Rick Maya Resigns, Gerald Walpin Investigates
Who is Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson - Walpin-Johnson Investigation
U.S. Attorney Larry Brown and CnCS Displeasure with Walpin's Investigation
Gerald Walpin Firing Update: AmeriCorp $75 Million Misused: Michelle Obama Hires?
Gerald Walpin Fired by President Obama: Inspector General Walpin Fired
Kenneth Bach Shreds Gerald Walpin Documents
Former AG Michael Mukasey says Walpin was fired illegally