Good Work...You're Fired!

Posted: Jun 16, 2009 5:08 PM
Under a law passed just last year and cosponsored by then-Senator Barack Obama, a President cannot fire an inspector general (IG) without first giving Congress 30 days notice detailing the reasons why that independent watchdog should be fired.  But, if a President essentially gives an IG an ultimatum -- resign now or we will fire you, when does that 30-day clock begin ticking?

Good question given that that is how President Obama’s recent firing of Gerald Walpin, the Inspector General with jurisdiction over the Americorps program, apparently went down.

Investors Business Daily lays out very clearly what Mr. Walpin did to ruffle the feathers of the White House:

“Seems that Mr. Walpin did a very bad thing — his job. He followed the money and discovered that the St. Hope Academy in Sacramento, Calif., had misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal AmeriCorps funds.

“The nonprofit education group, led by Sacramento mayor and former professional basketball star Kevin Johnson, had apparently spent the money on local politics. Specifically, according to the AP, funds were used ‘to pay volunteers to engage in school-board political activities, run personal errands for Johnson and even wash his car.’ All this, presumably, was to stimulate the local Sacramento economy.

“As a result of Walpin's efforts, Sacramento U.S. attorney Larry Brown reached an agreement with Mayor Johnson and the group to repay half of the $850,000 in grant money it had received, including $72,836.50 that came out of Johnson's own wallet.

“So does Walpin get an ‘atta boy’ from the administration? Is a press conference held praising him for his due diligence and the oversight of this administration as it carefully shepherds every single taxpayer dollar through the system? Not exactly.

“On Wednesday evening, Walpin was contacted by White House counsel Norman L. Eisen and given one hour to resign or be fired. Walpin refused, saying in an e-mail that it 'would be a disservice to the independent scheme that Congress has mandated — and could possibly raise questions as to my own integrity.'

It should also be noted that Mayor Johnson is a supporter and contributor to President Obama, having donated $2,300 to Obama for America in August of 2007.

You would think the White House would applaud the inspector general for putting an end to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraud against the taxpayers – but I guess it pays to have friends in the right places and Mr. Walpin doesn’t.

There's certainly not a lot of "hope" in that message.
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