Chicago politics on the Potomac: What’s behind Obama’s sudden attempt to fire the AmeriCorps inspector general?
Obama sent letters to House and Senate leaders yesterday informing them that he was firing Walpin, effective 30 days from the date of the letters.
Which, by the way, is against a law Obama signed, since he gave no reason:
The 30 day requirement is important because last year Congress passed the Inspectors General Reform Act, which was designed to strengthen protections for IGs, who have the responsibility of investigating allegations of waste, fraud and abuse within federal agencies, against interference by political appointees or the White House. Part of the Act was a requirement that the president give Congress 30 days’ notice before dismissing an IG. One of the co-sponsors of the Act was then-Sen. Barack Obama.
The Act also requires the president to outline the cause for his decision to remove an IG. Beyond saying that he did not have the “fullest confidence” in Walpin, Obama gave no reason for his action.
However, here may be a reason: whistleblowing
Walpin was criticized by the acting U.S. attorney in Sacramento for the way he handled an investigation of Johnson and St. HOPE Academy, a nonprofit group that received hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grants from the Corporation for National Community Service. The corporation runs the AmeriCorps program.
“It is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as Inspectors General,” Obama said in a letter Thursday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Joe Biden, who also serves as president of the Senate. “That is no longer the case with regard to this Inspector General.”
The president didn’t offer any more explanation, but White House Counsel Gregory Craig, in a letter to Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, cited the U.S. attorney’s criticism of Walpin to an integrity committee for inspectors general.
“We are aware of the circumstances leading to that referral and of Mr. Walpin’s conduct throughout his tenure and can assure you that the president’s decision was carefully considered,” Craig wrote.
Grassley had written Obama a letter pointing to a law requiring that Congress be given the reasons an IG is fired. He cited a Senate report saying the requirement is designed to ensure that inspectors general are not removed for political reasons.
Grassley said Walpin had identified millions of dollars in AmeriCorps funds that were wasted or misspent and “it appears he has been doing a good job.”
Specifically, the audit found that Johnson and other officials of Neighborhood Corps used AmeriCorps volunteers to recruit students for a charter school run by its parent program, improperly paid at two school employees with AmeriCorps funds for duties they did not perform, improperly used volunteers to perform personal errands for Johnson (including washing his car and driving him to personal appearances) and used the AmeriCorps volunteers to engage in political activities in connection with a board of education election.
Johnson, who was elected mayor in November, was barred from receiving federal grant money – the most serious action that the agency can take again a person or program.
Malkin has more on Americorps/ACORN fraud history.
Where is Congress in this? So far the only one to speak out is Sen Chuck Grassley R-Iowa.
Slow news Friday afternoon, ignored by the media.
Dan has more on Obama’s Chicago On The Potomac. As it turns out, we both used the same Chicago/Potomac connection.