If, like me, you haven’t had time over the last few days to keep up with the story of Barack Obama’s firing of Gerald Walpin, the Inspector General who has responsibility for the AmeriCorps program, Byron York will bring you up to speed. The story is an interesting one that sheds light on the lawless, bullying nature of the Obama administration.
Walpin, who by statute is supposed to be independent of White House control, ran afoul of Obama because he investigated a charity operated by former pro basketball player 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, e.g. to pay recipients to wash Johnson’s car. The result of Walpin’s investigation was that 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. The acting U.S. Attorney in Sacramento declined to criminally prosecute anyone in connection with these events.
Apparently in retaliation for having put the heat on an Obama supporter, the President had Norman Eisen, a Special Counsel to the President, telephone Walpin and demand that he resign within an hour. Walpin, pointing out that he is not a political appointee and does not serve at the President’s pleasure, declined to do so. So Obama fired him. By statute, Obama is required to give Congress 30 days’ written notice of his intention to fire an inspector general and set forth his reasons for doing so. Obama failed to comply with that aspect of the statute, merely saying that Walpin no longer has the President’s “fullest confidence.” That would be sufficient reason to replace a political appointee, but not to fire an inspector general. The Obama administration first denied, but now admits, that the President is firing Walpin because of the St. Hope affair.
Byron has much more. The bottom line, though, is that this story adds to the disconcerting picture we are getting of the Obama administration–a picture of lawlessness, hyperpartisanship, cronyism and lack of transparency.
UPDATE, via a commenter: Jake Tapper has more, particularly relating to Walpin’s conflict with the acting U.S. Attorney in Sacramento. I’m not crazy about the institutional role of the Inspectors General, but reviewing the various charges and counter-charges, it’s hard to see that Walpin was doing anything other than zealously carrying out his statutorily-mandated duties. What distinguishes this case from many others where an Inspector General makes himself unpopular is that Walpin crossed Barack Obama by investigating the President’s crony. That’s how it looks based on the evidence now available, anyway.
UPDATE: Much more here. It’s looking worse and worse for the Obama administration. It turns out that Walpin’s firing was part of an effort to make sure that the City of Sacramento would be eligible for many millions of dollars in federal “stimulus” funds.