Walpin-gate’s ‘egre­gious stuff’

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Now it ap­pears that the White House’s ace in the hole is ac­tu­ally a joker. News or­ga­ni­za­tions have tied the dis­missal of In­spec­tor Gen­eral Ger­ald Walpin to a flap over Sacra­mento Mayor Kevin John­son’s mis­use of Amer­iCorps funds. The act­ing U.S. at­tor­ney in Sacra­mento, Lawrence G. Brown, filed a com­plaint against Mr. Walpin in­volv­ing that same in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The White House seems to think the U.S. at­tor­ney’s com­plaint makes Mr. Walpin look bad and thus ex­cuses the fir­ing.

One ma­jor prob­lem: the U.S. at­tor­ney’s com­plaint has more holes in it than a 10-year-old sock.

The com­plaint claims that the in­spec­tor gen­eral re­peat­edly failed to co­op­er­ate with the U.S. At­tor­ney’s of­fice and im­prop­erly used press re­leases to try the case against Mayor John­son through the me­dia. Mr. John­son is a po­lit­i­cal ally of Mr. Obama’s and re­port­edly a per­sonal friend of first lady Michelle Obama. In an 18-page re­sponse cosigned by five mem­bers of the in­spec­tor­gen­eral staff, Mr. Walpin made mince­meat of Mr. Brown’s com­plaint.

Con­sider one of Mr. Brown’s ex­am­ples of Mr. Walpin’s sup­posed lack of pro­fes­sion­al­ism, which is hardly the most sub­stan­tive of griev­ances. “Not only was it ex­tremely ques­tion­able for Mr. Walpin to is­sue a press release,” the act­ing U.S. at­tor­ney wrote about a Sept. 25, 2008, release, “it con­tained state­ments such as: ‘If we find re­ally egre­gious stuff and we want to stop the bleed­ing, we seek im- me­di­ate sus­pen­sion.’ “

Mr. Walpin’s press release did not use the words “egre­gious” and “stuff” or the phrase “stop the bleed­ing.” That griev­ance was en­tirely con­trived.

The U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice claims it only learned of de­vel­op­ments in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion through news ar­ti­cles in­spired by the in­spec­tor gen­eral. That’s odd. The U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice ac­tu­ally sub­mit­ted, as re­quested by Mr. Walpin’s team, a let­ter nec­es­sary for the action against Mayor John­son. So that claim is false, too.

The rest of Mr. Brown’s griev­ances are equally nig­gling.

What re­mains is that the pres­i­dent fired an in­de­pen­dent, apo­lit­i­cal in­spec­tor gen­eral in re­sponse to his fil­ing ac­cu­rate re­ports that em­bar­rassed Pres­i­dent Obama’s al­lies. Mr. Walpin, a 77-year-old for­mer fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor with a ster­ling rep­u­ta­tion, sounded baf­fled when we spoke to him on Satur­day.

“I would never have given a thought to the pos­si­bil­ity that a pres­i­dent would in­ter­fere with the in­de­pen­dent re­port­ing by an in­spec­tor gen­eral by seek­ing to ter­mi­nate him. That is so con­trary to the pur­pose of the In­spec­tors Gen­eral [Re­form] Act that I thought there was no way in any re­al­is­tic sense that could hap­pen,” he told The Wash­ing­ton Times.

Mr. Obama was a co-spon­sor of that IG re­form act when he was in the Se­nate. But that was then; this is now. To­day, the in­de­pen­dence of gov­ern­ment in­spec­tors seems to mat­ter less than giv­ing cover to the pres­i­dent’s po­lit­i­cal pals.

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