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.