IN JUNE, THE HOUSE PASSED the Improved Financial and Commodity Markets Oversight and Accountability Act, which would give the president authority to dismiss and replace inspectors general at five financial regulatory agencies. . . . The bill was sponsored by Rep. John Larson (D-CT), who argued that making these IGs presidential appointees would make them more "independent" and "ensure better performance from government agencies." The IGs themselves strongly disagreed, testifying in opposition to the bill. . . . The Larson bill was also criticized by Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, which tracks government watchdogs. "I think you can be more independent reporting to a bipartisan board than being at the mercy of the president's good graces," Brian told the Washington Post.The entire article is nearly 3,000 words, so read the whole thing. The complete September issue is also now online, but you can get The American Spectator's exclusive coverage three weeks earlier by subscribing to the print edition now.
If the Larson bill was opposed by the IGs themselves, and if presidential appointment might actually undermine, rather than enhance, the watchdogs' independence, what was the legislation intended to accomplish? That question was posed to me by a Republican congressional investigator who pointed out that Larson is a prominent "Friend of Chris"-- that is, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) who has come under intense criticism for his close, and perhaps corrupt, ties to the financial industry. Being a "Friend of Chris" may be entirely coincidental to Larson's IG bill, but it is certainly a curious coincidence at a time when the scandal-plagued Dodd is preparing for a tough 2010 reelection bid and will need more help than ever from the banking, investment, and insurance firms that have so generously contributed to his campaigns in the past. This is just one of several coincidences -- like the First Lady's relationship to AmeriCorps and the vice president's relationship to Amtrak -- that seemed to cluster around the IG story as it developed in the weeks following the White House ultimatum to Walpin. . . .
PREVIOUSLY at American Spectator Online:
- Sept. 11: What Has Amtrak's Interim IG Been Up To?
- Aug. 7: Senators Seek Answer From ITC About IG
- July 28: IG-Gate Update: 'No Doubt' Political Pressure Led to His Firing,Walpin Says
- July 26: SIGTARP Neil Barofsky vs. Geithner's 'Black Hole' Bailout
- July 24: IG-Gate: Why the Matsui Question Matters
- July 23: IG-Gate Update: Did Dem Congresswoman Intervene With Obama in Walpin Case?
- July 22: SIGTARP Barofsky Shows Why Watchdogs Are Important
- July 21: IG-Gate: Democratic Staffers 'Useless' in Investigations, SayRepublicans
- July 20: IG-Gate: Connecting the SIGTARP Dots
- July 20: Behind Closed Doors
- July 17: Amtrak IG: Important Background
- July 14: IG-Gate: Sincere Doubts
- July 14: The Little Scandal That Could
- July 9: Democrats Question AmeriCorps Official's Stonewall on IG Case
- July 1: Malkin on IG-Gate: Does the Endangered Species Act Include Watchdogs?
- June 26: Grassley: Amtrak 'Systematically Violated' IG Law
- June 25: Eleanor Acheson: Lobbyist
- June 25: Obama Plays Hardball With Watchdogs
- June 23: Amtrak IG Probe: Who Is Eleanor Acheson?
- June 19: IG-Gate: Domino Theory
- June 18: AmeriCorps Scandal Won't Go Away Soon