Theodore's World: Removal of 2 Inspectors General Prompts Many Questions

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June 19, 2009

Removal of 2 Inspectors General Prompts Many Questions

Senator asks about firings of watchdogs

Removal of 2 inspectors general prompts questions

Chicago Tribune


He was appointed with fanfare as the public watchdog over the government's multi-billion dollar bailout of the nation's financial system. But now Neil Barofsky is embroiled in a dispute with the Obama administration that delayed one recent inquiry and sparked questions about his ability to freely investigate.

The disagreement stems from a claim by the Treasury Department that Barofsky is not entirely independent of the agency he is assigned to examine a claim that has prompted a stern letter from a Republican senator warning that agency officials are encroaching on the integrity of an office created to protect taxpayers.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R- Iowa, sent the letter Wednesday to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner demanding information about a "dispute over certain Treasury documents" that he said were being "withheld" from Barofsky's office on a "specious claim of attorney-client privilege."

A White House spokesman declined to comment, referring questions to the Treasury Department. Treasury spokesman Andrew Williams said late Wednesday that the agency would read Grassley's letter and respond to the senator before any public comment.

The dispute comes as Grassley, ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is looking into the abrupt firings within the last week of two other inspectors general one of whom was fired by the White House and the other by the chair of the International Trade Commission.

Both inspectors general had investigated sensitive subjects at the time of their firings.

Grassley is now concerned about whether a pattern is emerging in which the independence of the government's top watchdogs -- whose jobs were authorized by Congress to look out for waste, fraud and abuse -- is being put at risk.

The first dismissal occurred last week, when the White House terminated Gerald Walpin, inspector general of the service agency AmeriCorps. Walpin claims his dismissal was unjust, the result of political interference.

That controversy deepened with Grassley's complaint Wednesday that the White House wasn't answering questions posed by his staff.

Walpin had led an investigation of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson of Sacramento, Calif., a former NBA player and Obama supporter. Johnson started a nonprofit education program that Walpin's office alleged had misused federal funds.

In a letter sent late Wednesday to the White House, Grassley charged that a White House lawyer who delivered the news to Walpin and who was summoned to the senator's office, "refused to answer several direct questions" about the dismissal.

The firing drew criticism from Republicans and Democrats, who charged that it violated a new law passed last year to protect the independence of inspectors general by requiring 30 days notice and a full explanation to Congress of the dismissal of any IG.

Separately this week, the International Trade Commission told its acting inspector general, who is not subject to White House authority, that her contract would not be renewed.

Grassley had become concerned about her independence because of a report earlier in the year that an agency employee forcibly took documents from the acting inspector general.

"It is difficult to understand why the ITC would not have taken action to ensure that the ITC inspector general had the information necessary to do the job," Grassley wrote on Tuesday.

Less than three hours after the letter was e-mailed to the agency, the acting IG, Judith Gwynne, was told that her contract, which expires in early July, would not be renewed.

Laura Ingraham Compares Obama Firing to Mafia Hit


Wild Thing's comment.......

Hmmmm so the purge has begun. We will see how many will be in this thing.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R- Iowa, is turning out to be the administration’s worst nightmare.

Obama may have violated federal law. Tile 18 of the U.S. Code Section 1510 just for starters. Three different actions violate the same section the times. Three unique counts. Thus showing a pattern of illegal activity. Raising possible RICO violations. Yada, Yada, Yada.

Posted by Wild Thing at June 19, 2009 05:50 AM


This whole Administration's dirty. How many times dose obama get to break the law with impunity ? This is the joke of all 535 in Washington, taking the oath of office on a Bible and then willingly violating that oath. They should all be brought up on charges.

Posted by: Mark at June 19, 2009 09:11 AM

Face it America, we've got the political descendants of Al Capone running the country. We have to remember that Capone was loved by the "poor" because of the free soup kitchens he provided. On the outside he looked like he cared for the people while all time he tried to take all that the people had.

Posted by: BobF at June 19, 2009 09:39 AM

Shakes head, I agree Mark and BobF!!!

Posted by: Jack at June 19, 2009 04:04 PM

Mark, DITTO that. And the not having
and checks and balances now more then
ever is allowing a lot of this to go
on too. grrrr

Posted by: Wild Thing at June 19, 2009 07:55 PM

BobF., that says it all, we sure do.

"political descendants of Al Capone running the country"

Posted by: Wild Thing at June 19, 2009 07:56 PM