The Walpin Story: It’s About Money

Gerald Walpin, the Inspector General responsible for the Corporation for National and Community Service, the organization that runs AmeriCorps, was fired by Barack Obama after he blew the whistle on waste of government funds by a nonprofit run by Obama supporter Kevin Johnson, the Mayor of Sacramento. (It apparently is undisputed that Johnson was using AmeriCorps funds to pay people to wash his car, run errands for him, and so on.) Walpin’s effort to discharge his duties got him in hot water not only with Johnson, but also with the Corporation’s head, Alan Solomont, a Democratic Party fundraiser and Obama crony, and the acting U.S. Attorney in Sacramento.

We wrote about Obama’s firing of Walpin here. Now, Walpin has given an interview and more details of the incident have come to light. Byron York explains that Walpin’s firing grew out of Sacramento’s desire to get its hands on millions of dollars in federal “stimulus” money:

The White House’s decision to fire AmeriCorps inspector general Gerald Walpin came amid politically-charged tensions inside the Corporation for National and Community Service, the organization that runs AmeriCorps. Top executives at the Corporation, Walpin explained in an hour-long interview Saturday, were unhappy with his investigation into the misuse of AmeriCorps funds by Kevin Johnson, the former NBA star who is now mayor of Sacramento, California and a prominent supporter of President Obama. Walpin’s investigation also sparked conflict with the acting U.S. attorney in Sacramento amid fears that the probe — which could have resulted in Johnson being barred from ever winning another federal grant — might stand in the way of the city receiving its part of billions of dollars in federal stimulus money. After weeks of standoff, Walpin, whose position as inspector general is supposed to be protected from influence by political appointees and the White House, was fired.

The proposition that Sacramento could lose its stimulus money if Johnson was barred, as Walpin wanted, from receiving federal grant money, seems dubious to me as a legal proposition. But a lawyer retained by the City came to that conclusion, as the Sacramento Bee reported:

The city of Sacramento likely is barred from getting federal money — including tens of millions the city is expecting from the new stimulus package — because Mayor Kevin Johnson is on a list of individuals forbidden from receiving federal funds, according to a leading attorney the city commissioned to look into the issue.

So the investigation had to be swept under the rug quickly, and Walpin had to go. Obama had one of his White House lawyers call Walpin and demand that he resign within an hour. When Walpin refused to quit, Obama fired him without giving a reason other than his supposed lack of “fullest confidence” in Walpin. This certainly violated the spirit, and may have violated the letter of the 2008 Inspectors General Reform Act, which Obama co-sponsored. (I think it probably did.) This is classic Obama–ignoring a statute which he himself had sponsored just a year earlier.

Everything that we know about the Walpin episode so far contributes to the picture we are getting of the Obama administration–its fondness for bullying tactics; its lawlessness; its cronyism; its lack of transparency; its eagerness to crush anyone who gets in the way of Democratic Party corruption. I’m afraid we’re going to see many similar stories over the next 3 1/2 years.

A final observation: it is inexplicable that many liberals who are convinced that money in politics is the source of corruption nevertheless believe that the government can spread around $800 billion in what can charitably be described as disorganized fashion without engendering far greater corruption. I don’t believe that the love of money is the root of all evil, but it does account for a significant chunk of it.

UPDATE: Still more here, including a suggestion that First Lady Michelle Obama may have been involved.

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