Thursday, June 25, 2009

IG-Gate: It's not about Walpin

That's perhaps the most important thing in my American Spectator report today:
Yet the investigations into President Obama's evident crackdown on IGs -- designated watchdogs who guard against waste, fraud and abuse in federal agencies -- are not about [Americorps inspector general Gerald] Walpin.
Those familiar with the investigations (and yes, that noun is plural) caution against personalizing or politicizing the situation. These sources are especially concerned that inquiries by Republican members of Congress should not be portrayed as a partisan "gotcha" game against the popular new president.
Similar words of caution are expressed by some members of the IG community, who note that Walpin had only been watchdogging the Corporation for National and Community Service for two years. An able attorney and certainly not the doddering incompetent that Obama officials portrayed him to be, Walpin hasn't been an IG long enough to have acquired "veteran" status, and some say he had a reputation as "arrogant" or "holier-than-thou."
Whatever Walpin's reputation, however, sources familiar with his dismissal believe it was no accident that he was shown the door immediately after getting into a dispute with Eric Holder's Justice Department over a program affiliated with Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, an enthusiastic political ally of Obama. And perhaps the most important fact of the case so far is that the FBI is now investigating an accusation that e-mails relevant to Walpin's work were deleted by Johnson or others. Destroying evidence in a federal investigation is a serious crime, no matter what the other circumstances of the case may be. . . .
Lots more where that came from, so please read the whole thing. And I want to emphasize that the implied criticism of Walpin is not my personal point of view, it's what others have said. These sources, however, also emphasize that criticism from other IGs does not mean that Walpin wasn't doing good work or that his firing was justified. But this is not a referendum on Walpin; it's about the principle of IG independence.

Also, please especially note that there are multiple investigations underway at this point. Walpin is one of only three IGs who have gotten the ax in the past two weeks, and the Amtrak IG situation is currently heating up. Last night, Dan Riehl turned up some very interesting research about Amtrak general counsel Eleanor Acheson.

Really, this goes back to the question that Rick Moran asked Tuesday night: "Is there a story here?" The answer is clearly, "yes." Whether there is a scandal or any actual crime, there is no such accusation. But if you just stop to consider that AmTrak got $1.3 billion in the "stimulus" bill, and that the IG for Amtrak was complaining about interference from Amtrak bosses, the investigation of that alleged interference is a definitely a story -- no matter what the investigation discovers.

Personally, the angle that I find most intriguing is the reported conflict between the Treasury Department and Neil Barofsky, the special IG for the TARP financial bailout. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) is bird-dogging that one and . . .

Like I said, read the whole thing.

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