Media Ignore Further Questions Over Obama-Fired Inspector Gen Walpin

June 29th, 2009 2:13 PM

Apart from several reports on FNC, and a few on CNN, the mainstream television news media have ignored the controversial firing of former Inspector General Gerald Walpin, who had recently battled for tougher penalties against Obama friend and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson after an investigation by Walpin found Johnson had misused hundreds of thousands of tax dollars granted by the AmeriCorps program to the Johnson-founded St. Hope charity. Over the past weeks, there have been a number of developments, including the opening of an FBI investigation into the St. Hope charity, further casting doubt on the White House's decisions and bolstering Walpin's case that he was wrongfully booted.

In the June 22 editorial "Walpin-gate Opens Wider; FBI Investigation Embarrasses the White House," the Washington Times wrote that "The FBI has opened an investigation into a Sacramento program formerly run by a close ally of President Obama's, giving credence to the IG's work."

The article also recounted that Walpin and the acting U.S. attorney involved in the case, Lawrence Brown, had clashed because Walpin complained that Brown "had negotiated far too lenient a settlement of the charges against Mayor Johnson and St. Hope." The White House had cited complaints by Brown against Walpin as part of its justification for firing the inspector general. But, as noted by the Times, the White House "fired Mr. Walpin long before the relevant committee would have finished its assessment of the U.S. attorney's complaint."

Arguing that Walpin's view of the seriousness of the situation at St. Hope is well-founded, the article also recounted: "On the very same day that the president fired Mr. Walpin, St. Hope's executive director, Rick Maya, left his job at St. Hope. He did not go quietly. His resignation letter charged Mr. Johnson and several St. Hope board members with numerous ethical violations. Most explosively, he charged that a board member improperly deleted e-mails of Mr. Johnson's that already were under a federal subpoena."

According to the June 24 article "Even Political Foes Cheer on Fired AmeriCorps Inspector General Walpin," Paul Bedard of U.S. News and World Report writes that Walpin "has some pretty important friends coming to his defense. Some 145 of them, including political foes, have written Congress and the White House to refute attacks on his integrity in the controversy over why he was fired by the Obama administration." Bedard notes that the list "includes former federal judges and even Democrats like Bernie Nussbaum, former President Clinton's first White House counsel," as the group wrote that "All of us are unanimous in affirming Mr. Walpin's integrity and competence."

In the June 17 editorial, "Walpin-gate's 'Egregious Stuff'; There's Still No Cause for Obama Firing of an IG," the Washington Times informed readers that Walpin and several of his staff had submitted an 18-page rebuttal to Brown's accusations. Regarding Brown's complaint that Walpin had given information to the media before delivering the same information to Brown's office, the Times recounts Walpin's side of the story: "The U.S. Attorney's Office claims it only learned of developments in the investigation through news articles inspired by the inspector general. That's odd. The U.S. Attorney's Office actually submitted, as requested by Mr. Walpin's team, a letter necessary for the action against Mayor Johnson. So that claim is false, too."

In the June 24 editorial, "Lieberman Overlooks Walpin-gate; Public Hearings are Needed on IG Firing," the Washington Times also recounted Walpin's side of the story as a rebuttal to Brown's charge that information was withheld from him by the inspector general: "On the withholding of certain memos, it turns out that the supposed 'withholding' occurred at a meeting Mr. Walpin did not attend - but at which, we are told, his staff discussed with other investigators the memos in question. So it wasn't as if they, much less Mr. Walpin, were deliberately trying to conceal anything." 

In the June 18 article, "A Witness to Walpin-gate; An Eye Witness Contradicts the White House," the Washington Times cited an anonymous witness to the infamous May 20 meeting between Walpin and the bipartisan board of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which claimed Walpin was "disoriented" at the meeting, and unanimously requested that he be replaced. According to the Times, the witness not only disagreed with the board's description of Walpin's behavior at the meeting as "disoriented," as the witness described the meeting as "contentious" because Walpin was scolding the board for not being aggressive enough in its duty to protect tax dollars from fraud. The witness also argued that the board's complaint about Walpin telecommuting from his home in New York was not grounds for dismissal since the necessary board members had agreed that Walpin could telecommute without any objections from other board members when they had the opportunity to do so.

In the June 23 article, "Getting to the Bottom of the AmeriCorps IG Firing," Byron York of the Washington Examiner wrote that a Republican member of the board which requested that Walpin be replaced conceded that the board members were not sure whether there was sufficient reason to fire him. York: "But the corporation has never said the board unanimously supported the way in which Walpin was fired. And indeed, a long discussion with a Republican member of the board suggests that while there was, in fact, agreement on firing Walpin, it's not clear whether there was sufficient cause to do it. Nor is it clear why the White House decided to lower the boom in a way that defied the law governing how inspectors general can be fired." Regarding the telecommuting issue, York recounts that, according to his source, "the board did not tell Walpin he couldn't telecommute."

In the June 14 article, "Gerald Walpin Speaks: The Inside Story of the AmeriCorps Firing," Byron York of the Washington Examiner presented the theory that Brown and the Corporation for National and Community Service were under pressure to reach a quick settlement with Mayor Johnson that would remove his suspension so that the city of Sacramento would not be barred from receiving millions of dollars in federal stimulus money because of its mayor's history.