July 31st, 2009

Walpingate and the sound of crickets

Remember Gerald Walpin, the IG for Americorps who was summarily fired by the White House under suspicious circumstances? Remember the investigation launched into his firing?

Heard anything about it lately?

Thought not. But imagine for a moment if such a chain of events had happened during the Bush administration. Does anyone doubt we’d be hearing about it ad nauseam? My guess is that even if it had been the Clinton administration that was involved, the press would have given us regular updates, as they did with Whitewater. And this is true even if nothing of real substance was ever found.

But now we only have the resolute Byron York to let us know what’s happening with the Walpin firing investigation. And even he is a bit remiss in not telling us the “who” of it, as in who are “the investigators” to whom he keeps referring?

I can’t find an exact answer so far, but it seems from York’s piece that the ones doing the investigating are certain Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, as well as some on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Just to recap, here’s a very brief summary of the matters under study:

They know that AmeriCorps gave an $800,000-plus grant to Kevin Johnson, the mayor of Sacramento, Calif., who just happens to be an influential friend and supporter of the president. They know that Walpin investigated Johnson’s misuse of that federal money. They know that as a result of Walpin’s probe, Johnson was suspended from receiving any new federal grants, a fact that caused controversy in Sacramento when leaders realized it could prevent the city from receiving millions in federal stimulus money. They know that, amid the local uproar over the Johnson affair, the acting U.S. attorney in Sacramento, Lawrence Brown, made a deal to let Johnson off the hook, and then took the unusual step of denouncing Walpin. They know that Walpin vigorously objected to Johnson’s getting off easy. And they know that after Walpin protested, the president fired him.

The investigators haven’t found much so far, and one of the reasons is that the astoundingly transparent, open, and honest Obama adminstration has been stonewalling:

[I]nvestigators have been stymied by the White House’s refusal to answer any inquiries about any communications or other dealings it might have had on the subject [of Walpin's firing]. Brown has also refused to answer questions.

Right now they are looking into some interesting statements made by Rep. Doris Matsui, the Democratic congresswoman from Sacramento:

Asked whether Johnson’s problems could prevent the city from receiving stimulus funds, Matsui said that, at Johnson’s request, she had “been in conversation with officials at the White House and OMB [Office of Management and Budget] and others to ensure that we don’t lose any money at all.”

Just a couple of days later the ban was lifted and Sacramento got the funds, and Brown took the unusual step (unusual for a US attorney, that is) of issuing a press release celebrating that fact.

And then there’s this:

In June, Rep. Darrell Issa, the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a list of 20 questions to Brown and received no response. A follow-up in July was similarly ignored. “Your unwillingness to be cooperative with our investigation raises further questions about your role in this matter,” Issa wrote Brown.

It’s clear that the White House and Brown will not volunteer any information unless forced. And that doesn’t appear to be happening any time soon. And with the press’s cooperation, the pressure of public opinion does not seem to be building.

Is anyone the least bit surprised at all this? Disturbed, yes. But hardly surprised.

14 Responses to “Walpingate and the sound of crickets”

  1. Lucius Says:

    Neo, I am disturbed that 52.7% of Americans would vote for Obama. I am disturbed that the US press corp is nothing more than a propaganda tool for Democrats. I am disturbed that Marxism is being accepted. I am disturbed by the dying independent “can-do” American spirit. You might say that I am plenty disturbed (ha ha).

  2. gcotharn Says:

    OTOH: the “9 Fired U.S. Attorneys” story, and the implications that Karl Rove acted nefariously, remains active.

  3. Wandriaan Says:

    What is the reason why the mainstream media in the US are so on the Left and behind Obama? Why is this?
    Some say that this is just capitalism.
    Obama is very popular, so worshipping Obama sells, bashing Obama does not sell. When his popularity will fall, the media will start bashing him, because that will sell then. Same with Bush, first popular, so kiss him up, then unpopular, so trash him.
    Could this be true? Are the mainstream media just capitalist whores who will say anything for money, or are they dedicated to a leftist agenda?
    Given the enormous power of the media, this question seems crucial. When they are just whores, they are less dangerous than when they are backing Obama out of dedication to the left.
    I do not know the situation in the US regarding the media. Here in Europe it is certainly far more a strong dedication to the left that drives them. Does anybody know what really drives these mainstream networks in the US?

  4. gcotharn Says:

    Wandriaan,

    The media are dedicated to promoting a leftist agenda.

  5. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    an aggregator site keeping up with the inspector general controversy. I have no idea if it is balanced.

    http://ig-gate.blogspot.com/

  6. Holmes Says:

    Yes, but what about Sarah Palin’s baby?? Oh, and having a beer in the backyard with a citizen cop villified for political gain? Those things are important too.

  7. Vieux Charles Says:

    And what else has dropped off the radar screen?
    The William Jefferson Trial?
    How about Obama’s Aunt? In public housing no less.
    And my favorite the results of John Edwards paternity test.

  8. me Says:

    Maybe the reason you haven’t heard anything about it lately is twofold: there’s nothing new to tell, and you (and the estimable Byron York) were never paying much attention to begin with.

    The Washington Post made a boatload of documents available a month ago, and the picture they paint of Walpin is devastating.

    He lied in a memo to the CNCS board chairman about the General Counsel’s views on a disputed legal question, a falsehood the GC rebutted in writing.

    Even more telling is the letter from the US Attorney’s Office describing Walpin’s serious and repeated misconduct, which included a) mouthing off in the press about an ongoing investigation, even after the USAO had expressly directed him not to do so, and b) withholding crucial information that cast serious doubt on the allegations in his criminal referral. (See page 3, where the Acting US Attorney points out that Walpin’s referral claimed that “AmeriCorps members Performed No Tutoring” [for local schools], when in fact Walpin’s office had contrary evidence which it withheld in the criminal referral.) Note also that although the US Attorney’s letter is from 2009, the relevant events took place in August and September 2008; for instance, it was the previous US Attorney — appointed by Bush, not Obama — who told Walpin on 9/26/08 to stop running his mouth in the media on the ongoing investigation.

    Funny how Byron York manages to gloss over all this, eh?

  9. me Says:

    The full set of Walpin docs is at http://voices.washingtonpost.com/federal-eye/2009/07/gerald_walpin_documents.html#more.

  10. neo-neocon Says:

    me: I saw that list of documents back when they were released and skimmed some of them. So far, I agree with this assessment:

    Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican, first wrote the White House on June 15 asking for “a full and complete explanation of whom the White House consulted in order to evaluate the performance of Mr. Walpin,” among a number of other requests. Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, wrote the White House on June 17 with similar specific requests, after first raising questions about the firing on June 12. Mr. Issa wrote Corporation for National and Community Service Acting Chief Executive Officer Nicola Goren on June 26 to ask again for the information.

    Neither the White House nor Ms. Goren complied with those requests in anything approaching a timely manner. Lawrence G. Brown, the acting U.S. attorney in Sacramento who filed a factually inaccurate ethics complaint about Mr. Walpin, has not responded to Mr. Issa’s letter asking if the White House prompted his ethics complaint.

    On the other hand, when The Post filed an official Freedom of Information Act request with the corporation on June 29 at 5:19 p.m., the corporation counsel’s office complied that same evening with a selective spate of documents somewhat favorable to the White House story line — but still without information responsive to a host of the questions from Mr. Grassley and Mr. Issa.

    Then the stonewalling got worse. On June 30, White House counsel Gregory B. Craig warned Mr. Grassley, “These questions implicate core executive branch confidentiality interests.” On July 6, corporation general counsel Frank R. Trinity repeatedly refused to answer congressional investigators’ questions about the White House’s communications with his office regarding any review of Mr. Walpin’s performance.

    “It’s a White House prerogative,” Mr. Trinity told staff members, according to multiple sources. Asked if he was somehow asserting “executive privilege” — a privilege not his to claim — Mr. Trinity repeated his “White House prerogative” line. Told that no such prerogative exists in law, Mr. Trinity still declined to answer. Both he and the White House continue to withhold requested, relevant documents.

    My main concerns are the manner in which Walpin was fired, the varying stories told about the firing by the White House, and the refusal to clarify matters on the part of the White House. These things have yet to be clarified, and the White House has been singularly uncooperative and non-transparent.

  11. Michael Says:

    This idea of the media “kissing up” to President Bush when he was popular ignores facts and events that I remember well. When CNN and the New York Times had sent reporters to count all the Florida ballots after the post election campaign in 2000, they found that George Bush of Texas had, indeed, won the election. Nevertheless, the media continued to repeat the party line that Bush had somehow stolen the election. They tainted the Bush presidency with an odor of illegitimacy from December 2000 forward. This has had the further effect of blunting complaints about voter fraud and manipulation ever since then. This flagrant dishonesty is poisoning our political discourse, as it was intended to do. However, it has lost the Democrats at least two chronic voters, me and my wife.

  12. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    Re: neo to “me” – precisely. We are not discussing Walpin as a general case, as few of us know anything except what we can get from standard sources, but the behavior of the WH on this specific incident.

    Whenever, under any administration, there is an attempt to paint the opposition as a bad guy, rather than prove one’s own actions as correct, suspect smoke and mirrors. The right wing does it as well (as do the libertarians, communitarians, and Greens) – because it works.

  13. common tater Says:

    Crickets, alright: from you, about the latest development, in which an appeals court rejected Walpin’s claims. http://pacer.cadc.uscourts.gov/common/opinions/201101/10-5221-1286007.pdf

  14. fivefingers Says:

    You should take part in a contest for one of the best blogs on the web.I will recommend this site!

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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