JUNE 17, 2009
Barack Obama violated a law that safeguards the independence of government agency watchdogs when he fired an inspector general who found that one of the president’s political supporters—a California mayor—misused federal funds.
The Democratic senator who authored the law (passed by Congress last year) relating to the termination of government agency watchdogs blasted her good friend the commander-in-chief this week for abruptly removing an inspector general who has exposed widespread waste in taxpayer-financed community service groups.
In a statement posted on her U.S. Senate website, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill says Obama “failed to follow the proper procedure” in notifying Congress about the inspector general removal and for failing to give a valid reason for the termination. Earlier this week Obama said he had lost confidence in the inspector general (Gerald Walpin) but McCaskill reminds the president that loss of confidence is not a sufficient reason.
The president has subsequently amended his story, blaming Walpin’s removal on the fact that he was “confused” and “disoriented” at a meeting last month. Walpin certainly seemed lucid during his tenure as inspector general of the country’s national service programs, which annually receive millions of federal dollars to conquer everything from illiteracy to affordable housing and the environment.
He exposed a multi million-dollar fraud scheme in AmeriCorps’ most expensive program, a teaching fellow project at the City University of New York and he busted a Sacramento charity, operated by a powerful Obama ally who happens to be the city’s mayor, for misusing nearly $1 million in federal grants. The mayor, Kevin Johnson, illegally used the money to pay volunteers for political activities, run personal errands and even wash his car.
Johnson, a former professional basketball player, acknowledged that there “may have been administrative errors” and reached a settlement with federal prosecutors to repay about half of the money. This certainly indicates that Walpin did his job of rooting out government fraud, waste and abuse quite efficiently. It also explains why Obama can’t come up with a valid reason to fire him.
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