We’ve written before about the Obama’s administration’s firing of Gerald Walpin from the position of inspector general for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). Walpin ran afoul of Obama because he investigated a charity operated by former pro basketball star and current mayor of Sacramento, Kevin Johnson, a prominent Obama supporter. The non-profit, St. Hope, received an $850,000 grant from AmeriCorps. Walpin investigated what St. Hope did with the money and concluded that much of it was improperly spent, for example, to pay recipients to wash Johnson’s car.
As a result of Walpin’s investigation, St. Hope agreed to repay half the money it got from AmeriCorps. However, since St. Hope is insolvent, AmeriCorps is unlikely to get its money back. Moreover, the acting U.S. Attorney in Sacramento declined to prosecute anyone in connection with these events.
As Scott argued here, the White House’s explanation for the firing of Walpin is false. Norman Eisen, Obama’s special counsel for ethics and government reform, told Congress that his investigation into the merits of removing Gerald Walpin involved contacting members of the CNCS board to confirm the existence of a “consensus” in favor of removal. But Republican investigators later discovered that during that alleged “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.
Now, congressional Republicans have discovered an important additional inconsistency in the Obama administration’s story of the firing. According to Republican staffers, Alan Solomont, CNCS’s former board chairman and Obama’s nominee to be ambassador to Spain, told Republican investigators that he only discussed the Walpin matter with the White House counsel’s office. But White House visitor logs show that Solomont met with Jackie Norris, then Michelle Obama’s chief-of-staff, on the day before Walpin was dismissed. At that time, it had been announced that Norris was leaving her White House post to become a CNCS senior adviser.
Under these circumstances, it seems virtually certain that Solomont discussed Walpin’s ouster with Norris. This means that, to the extent Solomont denied discussing this matter with anyone outside the White House counsel’s office, Solomont did not tell the truth.
Viewed as a whole, moreover, the record strongly suggests that the firing of Walpin was not the product of a proper investigation or a consensus among CNCS board members. Rather, it looks like something cooked up by a prominent political donor (Solomont) and an Obama operative (Norris). Indeed, as the Washington Post observes, Walpin’s dismissal has already earned a bipartisan rebuke from lawmakers based on the White House’s failure to give Congress 30 days’ notice before the removal, as proper procedures require.
Congressional Republicans responded to the latest discrepancy in the White House’s line by asking Solomont to “clarify” his original version of the facts. They say that Solomont walked out of a meeting arranged by Senator Grassley when these questions arose. White House aides who were present deny this account.
In either case, the inability of key White House players to tell the truth about the circumstances surrounding Walpin’s termination leaves little doubt that the alleged reasons for the termination are pretexts and that the real reason was the Obama administration’s unhappiness over the trouble Walpin caused for the president’s corrupt ally, Kevin Johnson.
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