An interesting new story of Obama overreach has surfaced. Over the weekend, The Washington Times posted an editorial titled "Walpin-gate" and described the June 11 firing of 78 year old Gerald Walpin, inspector general for the Corporation for National and Community Service.
Mr. Walpin was driving in his car on June 11 when he received one hour's notice from the White House to immediately resign or be fired. No reason was given. Walpin was simply told he "no longer had the fullest confidence" in him.
Ironically, or not, then Senator Barack Obama was a co-sponsor for the Inspector General Reform Act while in his brief stay in the U.S. Senate. The reform states there must be 30 days from notice to Congress to dismissal and a reason stronger than "no confidence" is needed. Walpin said this morning, "I'm still waiting if there is any possible reason" for his dismissal. The reason is to be in writing, according to the legislation passed and according to the Senate report language, "The requirement to notify the Congress in advance of the reasons for the removal should serve to ensure that Inspectors General are not removed for political reasons."
Maybe the political machine from Chicago that now occupies the West Wing of the White House thought they could issue orders and go around Congress, since we continue to see such actions there. All the czars in power, not answering to Congress or the American taxpayer? How convenient.
The story is unfolding concerning Mr. Walpin. Mr. Walpin, a Bush appointee who stayed on in the job, was investigating alleged misuse of federal grants by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. Johnson is a former NBA basketball star and a big Obama supporter. The office found that Johnson used Americorps grants "to pay volunteers to engage in school board political activities, run personal errands for Johnson and even wash his car." That from The Washington Times.
A trip taken by Americorps grant recipients to Harlem from California to lobby for the expansion of the St. HOPE program is part of the complaints.
Let's be clear here - Americorps asked for the investigation in the first place. Mr. Walpin was performing his job in his leadership role of his office. Walpin wasn't the one out in the field, collecting data and evidence. That was done by his staff. Yet, Sacramento U.S. Attorney Larry Brown is criticizing Walpin, according to The Washington Times, for publicing announcing the investigation. Brown wanted it kept quiet. Brown's office reached a settlement with the nonprofit education group led by Kevin Johnson. Brown's office ordered the nonprofit to repay half of the $850,000 in grant money, including $72,836.50 from Johnson personally.
As Johnson ran for the Mayor's office last September, Walpin announced that Johnson, St. Hope Academy and former St. HOPE executive director Dana Gonzalez, were all suspended "from participating in federal contracts or grants until the investigation was complete." That from Jake Tapper. Questions were raised to the stimulus bill funding for Sacramento as part of that suspension involving Johnson.
So, in April, the agreement was reached for repayment of less than half of the misused federal grant monies. Walpin was not consulted on the settlement.
Senator Charles Grassley has requested a full investigation. "There have been no negative findings against Mr. Walpin by the Integrity Committee of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, and Mr. Walpin has identified millions of dollar s in Americorps funds either wasted outright or spent in violation of established guidelines. In other words, it appears he has been doing his job. We cannot afford to have Inspector General independence threatened."
Johnson has not paid the amount due from himself, to date.
Grassley demands that Alan D. Solomont, chairman of the Corporation for National and Community Service, provide "any and all records, email, memorandum, documents, communications, or other information, whether in draft or final form" as it relates to the firing of Walpin by President Obama, according to Jake Tapper, on his ABC News blog, Political Punch. Grassley is also looking into the possibility that First Lady Michelle Obama's office is involved.
St. HOPE Academy, the nonprofit community service organization run by Johnson, admitted misuse of federal grant funding. Grassley notes that less than half of the funds misused will be returned under the agreement. A form of a payment plan has been allowed to St. HOPE Academy over a decade.
Michelle Obama's possible involvement comes in since it is her office that oversees the Corporation for National and Community Service. According to Jake Tapper, a report in Youth Today, an independent , nationally distributed newspaper for professionals in the youth service field, reports that ad"Some decisions about CNCS are being made by First Lady Michelle Obama, according to service advocates (who asked not to be named). Last week, Mrs. Obama announced that her chief of staff, Jackie Norris, would move to CNCS as a senior adviser. Officials said yesterday that Norris is scheduled to arrive on June 22."
No reaction from the White House to Grassley's letter.