Friday, June 12, 2009

Can We Have a Little Privacy Here?


No, not here. Barack Obama desires a little privacy now that it's time to divide up the AmeriCorps pie. Step One: fire the Inspector General:

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama says he has lost confidence in the inspector general who investigates AmeriCorps and other national service programs and has told Congress he is removing him from the position.

Obama's move follows an investigation by IG Gerald Walpin of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who is an Obama supporter and former NBA basketball star, into the misuse of federal grants by a nonprofit education group that Johnson headed.

Walpin was criticized by the acting U.S. attorney in Sacramento for the way he handled an investigation of Johnson and St. HOPE Academy, a nonprofit group that received hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grants from the Corporation for National Community Service. The corporation runs the AmeriCorps program.

OK, so is the investigation of Johnson political? Or is the firing of Walpin political?
The IG found that Johnson, a former all-star point guard for the Phoenix Suns, had used AmeriCorps grants to pay volunteers to engage in school-board political activities, run personal errands for Johnson and even wash his car.

In August 2008, Walpin referred the matter to the local U.S. attorney's office, which said the IG's conclusions seemed overstated and did not accurately reflect all the information gathered in the investigation.

"We also highlighted numerous questions and further investigation they needed to conduct, including the fact that they had not done an audit to establish how much AmeriCorps money was actually misspent," Acting U.S. Attorney Lawrence Brown said in an April 29 letter to the federal counsel of inspectors general.

Walpin's office made repeated public comments just before the Sacramento mayoral election, prompting the U.S. attorney's office to inform the media that it did not intend to file any criminal charges.

The U.S. attorney's office reached a settlement in the matter. Brown cited press accounts that said Johnson and the nonprofit would repay half of nearly $850,000 in grants it received.

I imagine that the IG's "repeated public comments just before the Sacramento mayoral election" were political. But I expect I would have done the same thing if I had information that public funds had been (mis)used for political activities, and it looked like the perpetrator was going to be elected mayor. It probably wasn't a smart thing to do, seeing as Johnson was a big Obama supporter. But was it the right thing to do? I think yes.

If Johnson wasn't guilty of at least some mismanagement of these public funds, why did he, and the nonprofit, pay back over nearly half of $ 850,000 ?

So the lesson learned is: don't get in the way of FOO's (friends of Obama) now that the election has been won, and the game is being played by Chicago rules. What happened to Walpin is a shame, but the other big loser here is the American taxpayer. ACORN and AmeriCorps are set to receive billions of taxpayer dollars. This is the payoff, the big pie. And it looks as though Obama intends to carve it up without mom looking over his shoulder.

***Update:
Michelle Malkin has much more on this.

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