Obama Violates Inspector General Reform Law He Co-Sponsored

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In case you missed it Barack Obama has fired the Inspector General of the Corporation for National and Community Service, Gerald Walpin. His claimed reason? Supposedly a loss of confidence in Walpin’s ability to do his job.

Well the problem with just up and firing Inspector Generals is that it violates the law. In fact Obama cosponsored the very legislation, The Inspector General Reform Act of 2007 (S. 2324), after it was introduced by his good buddy Claire McCaskill, D-MO along with Susan Collins (RINO-ME), and Joe Lieberman (I-CT), which was intended to make it tougher for a president to get rid of an inspector general for purely political purposes.

In an April 2008 press release McCaskill had this to say about the role and importance of these IGs.

“If we’re not looking for ways to cut down on government waste, we aren’t doing our job here in Congress. This bill is key to preserving the IGs’ role as government watchdogs and making sure they can do their job of rooting out waste in this country.”

Susan Collins added,

“Inspectors General are vital partners in Congress’s effort to identify inefficient, ineffective, and improper government programs. The investigations and reports of IGs throughout the government help Congress shape legislation and oversight activities – improving government performance, providing important transparency into programs, and giving Americans better value for their tax dollar. The Inspector General Reform Act of 2007 would improve the independence and effectiveness of Inspectors General and contribute to better relations among the IGs, the agencies they serve, and the Congress.”

And to wrap it up Joe Lieberman piped in with,

“This bill is good government legislation at its best. It will strengthen the role of inspectors general as an independent investigative force, making sure that taxpayers’ dollars are spent efficiently and effectively while also guaranteeing that IGs themselves be held accountable.”

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Specifics of the Inspector General Reform Act required that,

* Congress be notified of any proposed removal of an IG, along with the reasons for the removal, in writing with 30-days notice.

* All IGs must have their own legal counsel or access to the services of legal counsel of another Inspector General. This will allow them to avoid using agency counsels.

* A Council on Integrity and Efficiency for Inspectors General must be established. Within the Council, an Integrity Committee must be created to receive, review, and refer for investigation allegations of wrongdoing that are made against Inspectors General or certain other staff members.

* All IG websites are directly accessible from the home page of agency web sites. All IG reports must be posted on agency websites within 3 working days of release.

* In the event of a vacancy, the Council for Integrity and Efficiency recommends to the appointing authority possible replacements.

* The president’s budget submission must state how much money is requested for each IG office, as well as the funding level the IG requested for their office. This will allow Congress to identify whether agencies are trying to interfere with the work of an IG office by cutting funding.

* No IG may accept a bonus.

* Presidentially-appointed IGs must be paid at Level III of the Executive Schedule, plus three percent, and other IGs must receive compensation comparable to other senior level executives in the department. This is aimed at preventing agencies from discouraging qualified candidates by lowering pay.

A press release announcing the passage of this legislation read thusly,

The U.S. Senate late yesterday unanimously approved legislation that will improve efficiency and accountability within the federal government by strengthening the nation’s system of inspectors general (IG). The Inspector General Reform Act of 2007 (S. 2324) – introduced by Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) – will build upon the strong tradition of inspectors general by guaranteeing that qualified individuals are appointed as IGs, that they remain independent of pressure or influence from the government agencies they investigate, and all IG reports and audits are easily accessible to the public.

Clearly Congress intended to give the IGs plenty of room to do their job without the interference of either the legislative or executive branches of government but that didn’t stop someone in the White House, on orders from Obama, from picking up the phone on Friday June 12, calling Walpin and giving him an hour to resign or be fired.

There is little doubt she will try and walk back on this statement in a day or so but for now this is what McCaskill had to say about Obama’s handling of this situation,

“The White House has failed to follow the proper procedure in notifying Congress as to the removal of the Inspector General for the Corporation for National and Community Service. The legislation which was passed last year requires that the president give a reason for the removal. Loss of confidence is not a sufficient reason.

She added that she was “hopeful the White House will provide a more substantive rationale, in writing, as quickly as possible.”

Source: abc’s Jake Tapper.

Now that the groundwork has been laid, what was it that Walpin did that caught the attention of Barack Obama? Well it seems he discovered one of Obama’s big name supporters was misusing federal grant funds for political and personal reasons.

The supporter, Kevin Johnson a former NBA basketball player, was a co founder of a northern California community organization group called the St. HOPE Academy, which had received nearly $850,000 in grants from AmeriCorps, a division of the Corporation for National and Community Service. Recall Walpin was, prior to June 12, the inspector general of the Corporation for National and Community Service and he was looking into how this money was being spent, precisely what his job description said he should be doing.

The funds granted to St. HOPE were supposed to be used for student tutoring, redevelopment of buildings in the Oak Park neighborhood near Sacramento where Johnson grew up, and to manage the nearby non profit Guild Theater. St. HOPE’s stated goals were to improve the grades of students, to stimulate economic growth in the area and to train volunteers for community service.

Walpin discovered that the way some of the grant money was being spent seemed to diverge substantially from the way it was intended to be used.

It turns out AmeriCorps members were being utilized to go out and recruit students into the St. Hope Academy, ostensibly to increase the enrollment thereby bumping up the amount of future grant money the program would be eligible to receive. AmeriCorps members were also being used for non AmeriCorps related clerical duties and for political activities relating to a Sacramento Board of Education election. Walpin also claimed AmeriCorps members were used by Johnson for personal reasons such as driving him around to appointments, running personal errands and even washing his car. Additionally Walpin charged that AmeriCorps members were even taken to New York in an effort to promote the expansion of the St. Hope Academy in Harlem, a common tactic used by left wing groups to increase the amount of federal dollars flowing into their organizations.

At the same time Walpin was investigating him and his organization, Johnson was busy running for mayor of Sacramento. While Johnson was campaigning for office Walpin had declared he and St. HOPE Academy were suspended from participating in any federal contracts or grants until the investigation was complete. Once Johnson became the new mayor of Sacramento this freeze on his participation in all federal grant programs became a major monkey wrench in the gameplan he had promised to the voters who put him in office. I suspect this was the core issue between the investigator Walpin and the president Obama.

You see the new mayor wanted to hop aboard the Obama federal stimulus money giveaway train but couldn’t with the suspension hanging over his head. The fact he was suspected of already misusing federal funds made it a tad difficult for Obama to slide his good buddy a big chunk of dough and Walpin was viewed as the cog in the wheel, not the guy playing loose and easy with our tax money.

The solution to this sticky situation? Why that’s easy, arrange to repay a portion of the money that was misspent and just have the suspension lifted! This deal, arranged through acting Attorney General Lawrence Brown–without the knowledge or participation of inspector general Walpin, required Johnson’s St. HOPE Academy to repay a total of $423,836.50 with $72,836.50 of that amount to come directly out of Johnson’s pocket. Over $420,000, chew on that for a few minutes. It appears to me Walpin was really onto something here…just what he was asked and paid to do by the federal government.

Brown made the announcement that this arrangement with Johnson and the St. HOPE Academy essentially put an end to the inability of the new mayor to receive federal funds via the stimulus program.

“The agreement reached strikes a proper balance between accountability and finality,” Brown said in a statement. “St. HOPE Academy must pay a significant amount for its improper handling of AmeriCorps funds. The lifting of the suspension against all parties, including Mayor Johnson, removes any cloud whether the City of Sacramento will be prevented from receiving much-needed federal stimulus funds.”

Hey we can’t have little ol St. HOPE Academy standing in the way of progress for the capitol of that nearly bankrupt state California now could we? Especially when the mayor is good buddies with the former Chicago community organizer who, now that he is sitting in our White House, thinks he is above the law and can do whatever he wants. By the way this isn’t the first time someone has picked up the phone and asked for an assist from Obama when things weren’t going the way they want and I guarantee it won’t be the last.

Responding to growing criticism over his handling of this situation Obama released a statement, excuse me–an outright smear, alleging Walpin, at one meeting out of hundreds he has had, specifically during a May 20, 2009 board meeting “was confused, disoriented and unable to answer questions and exhibited behavior that led the board to question his capacity to serve.”

Oh I see, so that’s all it takes to give someone the boot these days huh?

So when can we expect to receive your resignation Mr. Obama since you have displayed confusion, disorientation, have been unable to answer questions and exhibited behavior that has led millions of Americans to question your capacity to serve?

This entry was posted in Obama And His Administration.

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