Was IG Walpin fired because he uncovered hush money scandal?
In normal America, this would be a hot story; Inspector General fired by the White House (illegally) for uncovering a scandal involving a friend of the president who paid hush money to women to keep them from talking about his sexual harassment of them.
And to make the scandal juicier, the president's friend's girlfriend - the Chancellor of public schools in Washington, D.C. - helped him cover up the wrongdoing.
Now doesn't that sound like a juicy scandal? It's got everything; sexual wrongdoing, pro sports, people in high places, cover up, bribery, and a connection to the President of the United States.
But this isn't "normal" America. This is Obama's America where such stories that might have sunk a Republican president are considered "distractions" and not worthy of covering.
To fill in some of the names; Former pro-basketball star now Mayor of Sacramento Kevin Johnson, a personal friend and supporter of the president, evidently got a little too friendly with at least three women who he paid to hush up his "inappropriate advances."
Enter the Inspector General Gerald Walpin who oversees Americorps and whose investigation had already revealed irregularities in the use of that agency's money by Johnson, including paying kids to wash his car and expensing items from his campaign.
When Walpin tried to have Johnson brought up on charges, the U.S. attorney balked and settled the matter without going to trial (Johnson's charity, St. Hope, paid back more than $800,000 to Americorps). Walpin, quite rightly, was furious and took the matter to the Americorps board where he discovered to his chagrin that a new wind was blowing through Washington and the board members didn't want to anger president Obama.
The result was that an Obama supporter on the board fired off a letter to the White House demanding that Walpin be fired. The excuse was that he was basically senile and that it was imperative that he be removed immediately - despite a law that protected IG's from this kind of summary treatment.
This all happened last spring. Well, now Johnson's peccadilloes have been revealed by congressional investigators along with the attempt to buy the silence of women. And "damage control was handled by none other than Michelle Rhee, then on the board of one of Americorp's charities, now Chancellor of the DC public school system.
Byron York of the Examiner has the juicy details:
The employee told investigators that Rhee told her that "she was making this her number one priority, and she would take care of the situation." A short time later, the employee learned that the girl who had complained about Johnson had received a visit from Johnson's personal attorney.Needless to say, this puts a whole new spin on the Walprin firing. True to his oath to be watchful of taxpayer money, Walprin was smeared, fired, and then smeared again by the White House when it is clear that he was only doing his job.
The congressional report quotes the girl as saying the attorney "basically asked me to keep quiet," and Johnson offered her $1,000 a month for the duration of her time with St. Hope. Once investigators learned about that, the report says, they had "reasonable suspicions about potential hush money payments and witness tampering at a federally funded entity."
Rhee did not respond to calls for comment Friday.
Walpin included the allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct, along with evidence of misuse of federal money, in a criminal referral to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Sacramento. The acting U.S. Attorney, Lawrence Brown, reached a settlement with Johnson under which St. Hope was obligated to pay back some of the money, but took no action on the other matters.
The White House fired Walpin on June 10. The sexual misconduct allegations he was investigating have been secret until now.
There are several laws that have been broken here, including possible sexual misconduct by Johnson. Here's a quote from Walpin's report from City Paper's Mike DeBonis where the victim of Johnson's unwanted sexual advances gets the hush money offer:
After, as [REDACTED] put it, she "got the courage to tell... my supervisors," she reported the incident, which, she was informed, was communicated to St. HOPE Academy's Human Resources Department and the Chief Financial Officer. The night after [REDACTED] made her report, Mr. Johnson approached her and apologized. Subsequently, Kevin Hiestand, Johnson's personal attorney, met with [REDACTED], described himself only "as a friend of Johnson," and "basically asked me to keep quiet." Also, about one week after this incident, when [REDACTED] told Mr. Johnson she was going to quit because of financial and family reasons, Mr. Johnson "offered to give me $1,000 a month until the end of the program," stating that it would be confidential "between him and I."Where to now? Senator Grassley has proved to be a bulldog in the past when it comes to whistleblowers in government. Many of them consider the Iowa senator their patron saint. We have not heard the last of this - even if it is barely covered in the media - and you can be sure that the senator will keep asking for an explanation for Walpin's firing - a request he made of the White House many months ago and has not been fulfilled as of yet.
Hat Tip: Ed Lasky