President Barack Obama has spent the better part of his early presidency handing out government jobs and cabinet positions to supporters he gained along the campaign trail. The most obvious payback being the rewriting of bankruptcy law to ensure that the UAW – a union that heavy supported Obama – was placed at the top of the rung to receive money in the auto industry bankruptcies. Byron York, writing for the Washington Examiner, has revealed another act of cronyism that has not made it into the mainstream media. That would be the story around the attempted firing of the inspector general for AmeriCorps.
AmeriCorps is an organization that was started under the Clinton administration. AmeriCorps is a precursor to the mandatory volunteering that the Obama administration will soon be forcing most young people to participate in and is the model for the mountain of new corps that the President has implemented. AmeriCorps helps to supply non-profit organizations with grants. All federal programs have oversight from inspector generals (IGs). The IG for AmeriCorps is Gerald Walpin. He had been investigating the use of grants by St. HOPE Academy which is run by a former NBA star, Kevin Johnson. Apparently, Walpin discovered that this group had misused $850,000 in grants and asked for those funds to be repaid. The misuse stemmed from Johnson using the funds to pay volunteers to run personal errands, engage in political activities and even washing Johnson’s car. The U.S. attorney did not file charges and St. HOPE agreed to pay back half of the money even though the organization is insolvent at this time. The matter should have been settled and the IG did a great job with oversight.
But Walpin received a call on Wednesday from Norman Eisen, Special Council to the President for Ethics and Government Reform, who informed Walpin that he had one hour to resign or be fired and that his St. HOPE investigation had nothing to do with this and that it was just a coincidence that these two events took place together. The Inspectors General Reform Act, which was co-sponsored by Obama as a Senator, requires the President to give Congress thirty days notice before dismissing an IG. Thus, Walpin had no fear that he would be fired within a few hours unless the President wanted to break the law. He fired off an email to Eisen basically telling him off and that he would have to be removed by the President because he had no intention of resigning. By Friday, Byron York had confirmed that the White House intended to fire Walpin over the St HOPE investigation.
The truth behind this situation appears to be two-fold: 1)Walpin is a Republican appointed IG and has been a staunch defender against waste and Obama wants to replace him with one of his people (I bet no more waste or fraud is discovered) and 2)Kevin Johnson is a prominent supporter of Obama and so the IG has to go.
If this is not a definitive example of cronyism, I do not know what would be.