I’m starting a new themed series for future posts called Symptom of the disease, in which I will always refer back to this post. The current AmeriCorps story is example one, where it seems Gerald Walpin, the inspector general of AmeriCorps got fired for doing his job a bit too well and stepping on the toes of Obama supporters who were in line to get federal funding for their pet projects.
Byron York interviewed Walpin this weekend an opinion piece in the Washington Examiner.
The White House’s decision to fire AmeriCorps inspector general Gerald Walpin came amid politically-charged tensions inside the Corporation for National and Community Service, the organization that runs AmeriCorps. Top executives at the Corporation, Walpin explained in an hour-long interview Saturday, were unhappy with his 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. Walpin’s investigation also sparked conflict with the acting U.S. attorney in Sacramento amid fears that the probe — which could have resulted in Johnson being barred from ever winning another federal grant — might stand in the way of the city receiving its part of billions of dollars in federal stimulus money. After weeks of standoff, Walpin, whose position as inspector general is supposed to be protected from influence by political appointees and the White House, was fired. …
In the course of his investigation, Walpin found Johnson and St. HOPE [Johnson’s AmeriCorps distribution network] had failed to use the federal money they received for the purposes specified in the grant and had also used federally-funded AmeriCorps staff for, among other things, “driving [Johnson] to personal appointments, washing his car, and running personal errands.” Walpin came to the conclusion that Johnson and St. HOPE should be subject to suspension and debarment. But it was not Walpin’s decision to make; there is another official at the Corporation whose job it is to make that call. In September 2008, after reviewing Walpin’s evidence, the official decided to order a suspension, with the distinct possibility that it would lead to a permanent debarment.
That was during the Sacramento mayoral campaign, and the suspension quickly became a matter of controversy. Johnson’s critics raised the possibility that, as mayor, the suspension would mean the city could not receive federal funds. Johnson dismissed the matter. “That’s absurd,” he told the Sacramento Bee. “As mayor, I’m going to go out there and shake down as many resources as I can for Sacramento.”
So we’ve got a former hoops player, mayor of the California capital shaking down resources to get cash for his city. A clear symptom of the disease and get this, the charges against the mayor are not being challenged by the mayor, as a matter of fact the organization that runs AmeriCorps was “dealing with the city” to get more than $850,000 back from St. HOPE. Of course, it turns out that St. HOPE is probably broke.
…it was a terrible deal for the U.S. government, because St. HOPE was essentially insolvent and would never pay the money back. Second, he felt lifting Johnson’s suspension would dilute the effectiveness of future investigations; why should grant recipients worry about their misconduct if any sanctions can be so easily lifted? In the end, Johnson was not suspended, not debarred, and was probably not going to pay the vast majority of the money back.
The Johnson angle is sexy. But the Michelle Obama connection to this mess is even hotter. Michelle Malkin highlighted on Friday what conservative talkers will be chatting about and today Malkin posts an update.
[I]t is inexplicable that many liberals who are convinced that money in politics is the source of corruption nevertheless believe that the government can spread around $800 billion in what can charitably be described as disorganized fashion without engendering far greater corruption. I don’t believe that the love of money is the root of all evil, but it does account for a significant chunk of it.
Liberals think money is the source of corruption? Heck… I guess I agree with liberals on this. If you have that much money flowing up through the Treasury through Congress, this type of crap will continue to happen daily – it’s guaranteed!
Morrissey at Hot Air just posted.