Sunday, June 28, 2009
Now in the White House, Obama has continued to derive political benefits from the union. It was the SEIU's health chief, Dennis Rivera, who helped bring industry to the table to start talks on a healthcare overhaul.
INSPECTORS GENERAL FIRINGS
ED O'KEEFE/WASHINGTON POST: Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) this week suggested that the Obama administration is attempting to interfere with investigations conducted by government watchdogs . . . "I kind of get the impression that there’s kind of a crusade early on in this administration to . . . short circuit inspectors general," Grassley said . . . READ MORE
VIOLATED LAW, SENATOR SAYS
ROBERT STACY McCAIN/AM. SPECTATOR: Officials of Amtrak have "systematically violated the letter and spirit of the Inspector General Act," Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) charged Thursday, making public a 94-page legal report prepared at the request of Amtrak inspector general Fred Wiederhold, who resigned suddenly a week ago . . . READ MORE
- GRASSLEY'S LETTER TO AMTRAK:
"It was also reported to my staff that some OIG staff members may be fearful of retaliation if they were to discuss the matters set forth in this letter with anyone, including Congress. As you may be aware, 18 U.S.C. § 1505 prohibits obstruction of Congressional inquiries. Denying or interfering with employees' rights to furnish information to Congress in any way will be considered an obstruction of our inquiry. . . . READ MORE
- 94-PAGE REPORT (PDF)
- MICHELLE MALKIN: Biden Connection
- DAN RIEHL: Amtrak VP Is Lobbyist
BLOG REACTION: MOE LANE, TROGLOPUNDIT, NO SHEEPLES HERE, HOT AIR HEADLINES, OBI'S SISTER, INSTAPUNDIT, RHETORICAN, FIRE ANDREA MITCHELL, CAMP OF THE SAINTS, GREEN ROOM, RED STATE, SUNDRIES SHACK, MEMEORANDUM
U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT
Praise for AmeriCorps IG
PAUL BEDARD: Gerald Walpin, the former AmeriCorps inspector general who was fired after appearing confused at a meeting, has some pretty important friends coming to his defense. "We have never seen Mr. Walpin to be 'confused, disoriented, [or] unable to answer questions,' " wrote the 145, who include former federal judges and even Democrats like Bernie Nussbaum, former President Clinton's first White House counsel. . . . READ MORE
AmeriCorps Feared Bad Press
If IG Investigation Continued
BYRON YORK: On the evening of Wednesday, June 10, an official of the White House counsel's office called Walpin to tell him he had one hour to resign or be fired. . . . Why the rush? Walpin had certainly displeased the board by his aggressive investigation into the misuse of AmeriCorps funds by Kevin Johnson, the former NBA star who is now mayor of Sacramento, California and a prominent supporter of President Obama. . . . READ MORE
MICHELLE MALKIN: In a special May report, Walpin's office blew the whistle on a highly politicized U.S. attorney's office settlement with Johnson and his deputy, Dana Gonzalez. The pair exploited nearly $900,000 in AmeriCorps funding for personal and political gain. Based on Walpin's investigation last year, CNCS suspended their access to federal funds . . . READ MORE
SEX CHARGE STARTED PROBE
NANCY LEWIS: Ironically, the investigation of Sacramento Mayor Johnson, St. Hope Academy and its Hood Corps was requested by CNCS after the California commission that recommended St. Hope for funding received reports of irregularities at the program, including allegations of sexual misconduct. It was disclosed that a female student at St. Hope had told a teacher that Johnson had inappropriately touched her . . . READ MORE
Third IG Probe at ITC
JAKE TAPPER: Judith Gwynn, the Inspector General for the International Trade Commission, was told that her contract would not be renewed. The news was delivered to Gwynn within three hours of Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, sending the chair of the ITC a letter asking about a March 5 incident . . . READ MORE
- GRASSLEY LETTER TO I.T.C.:
As Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee I am responsible for conducting oversight of the International Trade Commission (ITC), and therefore, am particularly interested in the ITC Inspector General's semi-annual reports. The following statement from the April 2009 Semiannual Report to Congress raises a number of serious concerns and questions: "On March 5, 2009, in the course of conducting an investigation regarding contractor activities, certain procurement files were removed forcibly from the possession of the Inspector General by a Commission employee." . . . READ MORE
Treasury Department Questions
Authority of Bailout Special IG
AMIT R. PALEY & ED O'KEEFE: The special inspector general charged with overseeing the $700 billion bailout of the financial sector says he has been told by the Treasury Department that the agency has legal authority over his office, a claim that could threaten its independence. Neil M. Barofsky, who is overseeing the bailout, wrote in an April 7 memo that the department would ask the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel to sort out the issue. . . . READ MORE
Bailout Watchdog: Who's the Boss?
JENNIFER LIBERTO: The watchdog charged with investigating fraud in the government bailout programs is feuding with the Treasury Department about who he answers to. Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general overseeing the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program has launched at least 20 criminal investigations and six audits . . . READ MORE
BAROFSKY PROBED AIG BONUSES
MATT JAFFE: The Treasury Department’s ongoing dispute with bailout watchdog Neil Barofsky stems from the Obama administration’s refusal in April to hand over documents relating to AIG’s executive compensation structure . . . The insurance giant, the recipient of a record $180 billion in taxpayer aid, ignited an uproar in March when the company paid out $165 million to employees as part of a retention program . . . READ MORE
- HENSARLING LETTER (PDF)
"Any threat or appearance of a threat to SIGTARP’s independence will undermine and corrupt its important mission. SIGTARP must be given free and open access to all TARP related documents and other materials held by or accessible to the Administration" . . . READ MORE
Grassley: Treasury Claim 'Specious'
TOM HAMBURGER & PETER WALLSTEN: 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. . . . Sen. Charles Grassley, R- Iowa, sent the letter 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." . . . READ MORE
SENATOR GRASSLEY: "The grassroots is furious about the way TARP dollars have been used and what looks like a lack of accountability for this massive infusion of tax dollars. It's added injury to hear about the Treasury Department putting up hurdles to slow down the work of the watchdog who's supposed to track the money." . . . READ MORE
- GRASSLEY LETTER TO GEITHNER (PDF)
"[M]y office received information that there was a dispute over certain Treasury documents that were being withheld from SIGTARP auditors on a specious claim of attorney-client privilege. . . . The ability of Inspectors General to secure agency records subject to audit or investigation is essential to ensure the integrity and reliability of their work on behalf of Congress and the American People . . . READ MORE
Speaking Truth To Power?
PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH: A favorite charge against George W. Bush was that when he was President, he would not suffer challenges and disputes from governmental watchdogs. . . . The election of Barack Obama was supposed to change all of this. At long last, we were supposed to have a President who welcomed challenges and disputatious opinions. . . . READ MORE
THE NEW AMERICAN
Walpin: Tip of the Iceberg
STEVEN J. DuBORD: What is truly disturbing is that the Walpin firing appears to be just the tip of the iceberg. Inspectors general are under fire by government agencies throughout the Obama administration. . . . READ MORE
THE AMERICAN SPECTATOR
IG Probe 'Not About Walpin'
ROBERT STACY McCAIN: Gerald Walpin has quickly become the most famous of the three inspector generals who've left their jobs in recent weeks, exposing what appears to be a pattern of pressure from the Obama administration. . . . Yet the investigations into President Obama's evident crackdown on IGs -- designated watchdogs who guard against waste, fraud and abuse in federal agencies -- are not about Walpin. . . . READ MORE
Watchdogs, Not Lapdogs
JIMMIE BISE JR. : Inspectors General are the watchdogs who guard our interests in government. They make sure the dollars our government spends are spent in accordance with the law. Without them, fraud and abuse would run rampant. . . . That is why they must be independent agents, not beholden to the agency they inspect . . . READ MORE
THE AMERICAN THINKER
'Picked Off One by One'
RICK MORAN: It appears that those IGs who won't play ball are getting picked off one by one. There might be another explanation but 3 in 3 weeks? The incidents call into question the independence of the entire inspector general system put in place by Congress to watch where our tax dollars are spent . . . READ MORE
'Those Who Stand in His Way'
MICHAEL BARONE: Chicago-style, [President Obama] has kept the Republicans out of serious policy negotiations . . . Basking in the adulation of nearly the entire press corps, he whines about his coverage on Fox News. Those who stand in the way, like the Chrysler secured creditors, are told that their reputations will be destroyed; those who expose wrongdoing by political allies, like the AmeriCorps inspector general, are fired. . . . READ MORE
AMERICAN ISSUES PROJECT
'This Small Scandal'
JIMMIE BISE JR: It could very well be that this small scandal becomes the lead domino that begins a chain reaction that could spell unmitigated disaster for the administration . . . READ MORE