Wednesday, June 17, 2009

When is a whistle blower no longer a whistleblower?

Former Inspector General Gerald Walpin can probably answer that question best. After turning in a report on misappropriation of federal AmeriCorps funds by a prominent Barack Obama supporter and was shortly thereafter fired by the White House. Federal Inspectors are supposed to be protected from politics, by apparently not in this case. The law states that to fire an Inspector General, written intent has to be delivered 30 days prior to Congress, with a reason for dismissal, this was not the case with Walpin.

Two days after his report on AmeriCorps, he was given the choice to resign immediately or be fired. The administration followed the firing with a letter to Congress stating, “"It is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as inspectors general. That is no longer the case with regard to this inspector general." Not once was a reason given for his dismissal.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who co-sponsored the Inspector General Reform Act of 2008, said in an interview, “We cannot afford to have inspector general independence threatened. In light of the massive increases in federal spending of late, it is more critical than ever that we have an inspector general community that is vigorous, independent and active in rooting out waste, fraud and abuse. I urge you to review the Inspector General Reform Act you co-sponsored and to follow the letter of the law should you have cause to remove any inspector general."

The White House responded by saying, “Walpin was not immediately fired, but suspended for 30 days of paid leave as a countdown to his official release, and that his dismissal, indeed, was related to the Johnson investigation.”

Obama supporter and former NBA star Kevin Johnson, who was the target of Walpin’s report has been supported by White House counsel Gregory Craig and cited in an ethics complaint filed against Walpin by the acting U.S. attorney in Sacramento, Lawrence Brown. Although on the surface the ethics complaint looks to be merely retribution, by the Mayor of Sacramento, and the St. HOPE Academy, the expose’ of the misuse of government money did effect the reaching of a settlement requiring the organization to pay back over $400,000 of $850,000 in grants it was given through the AmeriCorps program.

When is a whistle blower no longer a whistle blower? When he does his job too well for the President’s comfort.


Kevin Bryant said...

Glen Beck has been having fun with this for the past couple of days.

barb p said...

And are we surprised…?