Last Wednesday evening Inspector General Gerald Wilpin was unexpectedly and unceremoniously let go by the Obama administration. He received a phone call from the White House Counsel’s office telling him he had one hour to either resign or be fired. He refused to resign. The next day, his head was handed to him. And not on a silver platter.
IG Walpin was the inspector general for the AmeriCorps program. This is the national service program that just got its budget trebled and received $5.7 billion a couple of months ago. His job is to investigate allegations of stolen money, misspent money, fraud, and other nefarious activities associated with misappropriation of public funds.
Because they often step on some political appointee’s or elected official’s toes, Congress has given them special protections. There was a law passed in 2008 that said, if the president wants to fire an IG, he has to give Congress 30 days and show cause for the firing
One of the co-sponsors was none other than then-Senator Barack H. Obama. Ah, it’s so easy to be anti-corruption when you’re not the one corrupting.
What got Mr. Walpin in trouble it seems, was that he went after the wrong guy. Kevin Johnson, a former NBA star and current mayor of Sacramento, California, at one time headed a non-profit group for children called St. Hope. He was accused of misusing thousands of dollars in federal AmeriCorps grant funds. Mayor Johnson also was a big supporter of and contributor to President Obama. Mayor Johnson also made millions of dollars as a professional basketball player. Did he really need to use taxpayer money for his own personal affairs? Is he really that cheap?
The subsequent investigation by IG Walpin confirmed the allegations. Mr. Johnson did indeed use federal funds for personal uses. The report didn’t quite please the administration so it seemed action was necessary and they took it.
Now, just in case you think IG Walpin is a Republican hack, I’d like to point out that he prosecuted Roy Cohn (one of Senator Joe McCarthy’s bulldogs) and was the person responsible for the indictments against Richard Nixon’s cabinet members John Mitchell and Maurice Stans. So it would be hard to label him as a “vindictive right-wing nut case.”
No reason has yet been given for firing Mr. Walpin, but a concerted smear campaign against this dedicated public servant is now being given exposure by an ever-accomodating mainstream media. They actually have accused him of senility because of his age (he’s in his 70s.) By the way, Teddy (The Swimmer) Kennedy is 78 and Robert KKK Byrd is in his 80s. Maybe we should fire them. Dare we hope?
Clearly, our Dear Leader is afraid of IG Walpin. If he lets him get away with this, other Inspectors General may start looking into other people in the Obama circle of friends. Maybe some would be a little too close to the president. Maybe we would find out some things about the new messiah that he doesn’t want us to know.
And we can’t have the truth about him coming out him, now can we?
That would just spoil everything. Maybe even create a crisis that we couldn’t let go to waste.