The following is a guest post from PoliGazette commenter Jay_C.
Mr. Gerald Walpin was/is an Inspector General of the United States that from all outside appearances was initially fired by President Obama for doing his job, and by all accounts, apparently illegally to boot. And not in the progressive meaning of illegal, as in, “I don’t like something so my friends and I will work around the system to make it illegal”, but actually illegal, as in “the then Senator Obama co-sponsored a bill to require all Inspector General firings by a sitting President to be preceded by 30 days notice and to provide a real reason” illegal. Pretty bizarre, don’t you think? I can’t help but link this story to Jason’s article “The Danger Of Giving Democrats A Pass”. To me, this is just another straw on the proverbial camel’s back of“…a growing pattern in the media and blogosphere — giving a Democratic President a pass for policies that, even in lesser form, would have evinced howls of outrage if pursued by a Republican.”
This is no more true that in the case of Mr Walpin and his “situation”.
Ok, before I get slammed, to be fair, after a period of a few days, what little conservative uproar there was about this illegal firing, (and questions from 2 members of Congress — Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo) expressing concern, President Obama backpedalled after the fact and placed Walpin on 30 days notice with pay, and at that point provided not a reason, but a 3rd hand observation of someone on the CNCS (Corporation for National and Community Service) board where Walpin worked, that in one meeting out of hundreds, Walpin appeared “out of it”. This seemed to appease Senator McCaskill. However, this was not a good enough answer for Grassley. When Grassley pushed further, the White House sent a letter indicating that the President had “lost faith” in Walpin. But again, this is just another vague “gut feeling”, in addition I must note that they added a substantive charge, and downright damning one at that. A member of the CNCS board indicated that Walpin was..get this..working from home when he should have been working from the office, the horror! So, this is the end of story right, case closed, call security, and get this guy out of here, right? Not so fast. Next, Norman Eisen, the White House Special Counsel to the President for Ethics and Government Reform, met with investigators on the staff of Sen. Charles Grassley at Grassley’s office. The investigators wanted to learn more details about the abrupt firing of CNCS inspector general Gerald Walpin. According to Grassley, Eisen revealed “very little”, refusing to answer many questions of fact, namely:
• Did the CNCS Board communicate its concerns about Mr. Walpin to the White House in writing?
• Specifically, which CNCS Board members came forward with concerns about Mr. Walpin’s ability to serve as the Inspector General?
• Was the communication about the Board’s concerns on or about May 20, 2009 the first instance of any communications with White House personnel regarding the possibility of removing Mr. Walpin?
• Which witnesses were interviewed in the course of Mr. Eisen’s review?
• How many witnesses were interviewed?
• Were any employees of the Office of Inspector General, who may have had more frequent contact with Mr. Walpin than the Board members, interviewed?
• Was Mr. Walpin asked directly during Mr. Eisen’s review about the events of May 20, 2009?
• Was Mr. Walpin asked for his response to the allegations submitted to the Integrity Committee by Acting U.S. Attorney Lawrence Brown?
• What efforts were made during Mr. Eisen’s review to obtain both sides of the story or to afford the Office of Inspector General an opportunity to be heard?
• In addition to the claim that Mr. Walpin was “confused” and “disoriented,” the letter also says he exhibited “other behavior” that led to questions about his capacity. What other behavior was Mr. Eisen referencing?
• If the initial and primary concern had to do with Mr. Walpin’s capacity to serve for potential health reasons, why was he only given one hour to decide whether to resign or be fired?
• If Mr. Walpin’s telecommuting arrangements since the beginning of this year were a major concern, then why was Mr. Walpin not simply asked to stop telecommuting?
So, Eisen is clamming up, eh? What a shame, he had a chance to wipe the slate clean. In my opinion, these questions are just the tip of the iceberg. Just off the top of my head, I would also ask why was there such a rush to fire Walpin for such minor issues? Was Walpin ever given a verbal or a written warning in the past? Had his superiors ever show concern, and ask Walpin to see a doctor for his condition of being “out of it”? I think these accusations are all hogwash.
So why am I creating all this uproar over one guy being placed on leave (and who most likely will be fired anyway)? This all smells funny to me as this all started once Walpin started nosing into a settled investigation regarding the now Mayor of Sacramento Kevin Johnson’s …AKA “Little Obama” use of AmeriCorps money (about $800,000 of your money) for purposes other than what they were intended, while heading up the St. Hope Academy — a “nonprofit community development corporation”. St. Hope settled their case and will be paying back roughly half the money over 10 years, in installments, and they are suspended from receiving Federal Funds until an investigation into the use of funds for its volunteer program is completed. What I really think had Walpin relieved from duty, was that he was not satisfied with the negations and resolutions of the United States v. St. Hope Academy case. He submitted a Special Report to Congress where he called the settlement agreement of “questionable value, but which vacated the suspensions and precluded the debarment of any of the respondents — all without any facts to contradict the previous findings which, the Debarment and Suspension Official had found, required holding that these respondents were each not responsible, and therefore should not receive further Federal funds”
The letter went on to say:
“This 180-degree turnaround was based on the change of circumstances of Respondent Johnson, who had, after directing St. HOPE’s misuse of the grant funds provided to it and receiving the suspension notice, become Mayor of Sacramento. The suspension was lifted because, as one Corporation official put it, the Corporation could not “stand in the way of Sacramento” — thereby effectively stating that, while Respondent Johnson was not sufficiently responsible to receive further Federal funds in his management position as a grantee, he suddenly became sufficiently responsible when elected Mayor of a city receiving substantially more Federal funds — akin to deciding that, while one should not put a fox in a small chicken coop, it is fine to do so in a large chicken coop!”“
To return to Jason’s “If this were a Republican” idea: Why do Nixon and the phrase “I am not a crook” pop to mind so frequently in regards to this story? It appears that Walpin was just trying to save what little of our money he can from my point of view, and it appears he was call in to question what effect this should have had on Johnson’s becoming Mayor of Sacramento.
In addition, why do I get the feeling that CNN, MS(NBC), ABC, et. al would be clamoring with “special reports” breaking in to report on calls from Hollywood activists to have the bum impeached if this were a Republican President?
So that is it now, right? Again, not so fast. The Chicago Tribune reports that this firing (I mean relief of duty, with pay), may not be an isolated incident. Were all these performed by the President? No, but one has to wonder, why fire Inspectors General, and why now (to fill them with appointees with more compliant ideas of what the law is perhaps? (Maybe now I understand what President Clinton meant by…it depends on your definition of “is”). Kidding aside, tough experienced investigators are needed more than ever in an economy like we have today; their whole purpose is to find wasted tax money, our money.
I can see how some see this is as “not just about one guy”. It is the old theme of smears and a history of what appears to be the “Chicago Style politics” we have all heard about, changing the subject, and not answering questions….and once again, the theme of “Community Organizing” wriggles itself into the scene of the crime rearing the ugly side of its head (yes, I think community organizing does have a good side) All the while there is nobody on the left, joining the fight to get the truth (and to be fair, hardly anyone on the Right either) To get the real answers.
Stories like this do not help the idea that “Obama and his friends in community organizing groups are out to change America, in their image”. As these “Chicago Style Politics” stories stack up over the months, without any real answers, I can see how some have to try really hard to convince themselves that this is still not the case. I don’t know, call me a kook if you will, but this all just doesn’t sit well, for the time being, Don’t get me wrong, I’ll push myself away from the Kool-Aid stand thank you very much, but if this all sits well with you, and you are not a Kool-Aid drinker (from either side), please let me know how you are faring. I am waiting for hard evidence that these worries are for naught.