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Saturday Night Massacre Redux

Gerald Walpin

Byron York:

Gerald Walpin loses appeal; court guts protections for agency watchdogs

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has rejected fired AmeriCorps inspector general Gerald Walpin’s lawsuit seeking reinstatement to his job. In a ruling issued Tuesday morning, the three-judge panel — one appointed by the first President Bush, another appointed by President Clinton, and the third appointed by the second President Bush — agreed with a lower-court ruling that Walpin does not have a “clear and indisputable right” to his former job.

In June 2009, Walpin was the inspector general for the Corporation for National and Community Service, which oversees the AmeriCorps service program. He had been aggressively investigating the misuse of $800,000 in AmeriCorps grant money given to a program run by Kevin Johnson, the mayor of Sacramento, California who also happens to be a prominent Obama supporter. As a result of Walpin’s investigation, Johnson was, for a while, suspended from receiving any new federal grants. Later, an acting U.S. attorney who was seeking a post in the Obama administration refused to pursue the Johnson matter. Inside the Corporation, Walpin expressed his unhappiness with that decision and his desire to continue investigating corruption in Sacramento.

On June 10, 2009, Walpin received a call from the White House counsel’s office in which he was given one hour to resign or be fired. He chose not to resign and was fired. The action alarmed Republicans on Capitol Hill, particularly Sen. Charles Grassley, because it appeared to violate a law designed to protect the independence of inspectors general by requiring the president to give Congress 30 days’ notice, plus an explanation, before firing an IG.

Later, the White House told Congress that Walpin had not been summarily fired; he had been placed on “administrative leave” for 30 days and then fired And as a reason for the firing, the White House told lawmakers that the president no longer had the “fullest confidence” in Walpin.

Walpin sued, arguing that his removal clearly violated the law. In June of 2010, Walpin lost his case before U.S. District Court in Washington. Now, he has lost before the Court of Appeals. The three-judge panel ruled that the White House’s decision to place Walpin on administrative leave for 30 days (after telling him he was fired) did not violate the law. Further, the judges ruled that Obama’s explanation that he no longer had “fullest confidence” in Walpin “satisfies the minimal statutory mandate that the president communicate to the Congress his ‘reasons’ for removal.”

Back in 1973 Archibald Cox was appointed to be an independent special prosecutor investigating the Watergate break-in. When Cox issued a subpoena to the White House for Oval Office tape recordings, Richard Nixon ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire Cox.

Richardson refused and resigned. Nixon then ordered Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus to fire Cox and got the same result. Finally Robert Bork did the president’s dirty work. The incident became known as the “Saturday Night Massacre.”

The inspector general is an agency watchdog position. They are supposed to be independent. It defeats the purpose if they can be fired for doing their jobs too well.

25 Responses

  1. There is The Supreme Court. No telling what they would do.


    • I’m hoping they’ll do the right thing for the right reason, but I’ll take them doing the right thing for the wrong reason too.

  2. It is so interesting to observe how the Dems through O commit the same sins of executive privilege and party excess that they so enjoyed reviling rethugs for doing. I understand that O is now contemplating “signing statements” to object to the recent legislation which tells the President he can not try the gitmo crowd in civilian courts. It’s really all about the power, perks and privileges.

    • What is interesting (not really) is how all the people who railed against Bush for EOs now justify Obama as “doing the best he can in a bad situation.” It galls me. I just visited a lefty site today (not really a political board, but politics does get discussed) that I hadn’t since the primaries & there is one guy trying to complain about Obama’s gitmo EO & everyone is shutting him down. Sickening. The little glimmer of hope I did get is that particular thread isn’t getting much traffic — only 4 obots talking to themselves & telling the “complainer” to eff off.

    • His “objection” is mostly kabuki from what I hear. It won’t really change anything.

    • it didn’t take much power to corrupt Obama. He got there while a state representative in IL. It’s pathetic.
      Speaking of pathetic, most Obots have no clue he made a back room deal with health industry that in exchange for not opposing Obama Care, he would not let the public option happen.

    • The only one I really trusted to wield power with restraint was Hillary. 0, as you noted was already corrupt; unfortunately, that rather glaring quality was ignored by many.

  3. How, oh how will the bot-boyz ‘n bot-girlz reconcile this as they survey the cement block expanse of mommy & daddy’s basement?

    What will Tingles and The Screamer say?

  4. There is something a little stomach turning about this.

    • Remember Shirley Sherrod? She got dumped on the quick, too. IIRC, her boss called her while she was commuting home and told her the WH said she had to quit or be fired.

      I have no admiration for the way 0 does business. He’s a classless act.

  5. Do we know who in the White House counsel’s office orginally fired him. Because this stinks of a coverup.

    • Especially since Kevin Johnson was a close personal friend of Barak & Michelle Obama.

      Cough cough

  6. That’s really depressing. So we’re back to Nixon level corruption all the way to the top. Only this time everyone in power and in the press are just happy as can be with the way things are.

    I always said if we had another watergate event now (we’ve had a number of them I think), it wouldn’t have the same result (in the top guy being ousted) It’s looking like I’ll be proven correct.

  7. OT but also depressing:
    Anne Francis (Forbidden Planet, Honey West) has died, as has Gerry Rafferty (Baker Street, Stuck in the Middle with You).

    Two great stars — RIP.


    • when I was a little child, 6 or 7 years old we used to play a sort of superheros game. I was always Honey West because I had blond hair and the black tights and leotards.

      • She was a great role model! (Especially given what else was on television at the time.) Emma Peal came later.


  8. Okey. Sounds like a great job to have. Investigate but if you find any impropriety you may be fired. Bitchin.

  9. Kevin Johnson’s fiance is Michelle Rhee. Rhee was the chancellor of DC’s public school system until resigning in October 2010 after Mayor Fenty lost the Democratic primary.

    It is puzzling that an accomplished woman like Rhee remains in a cross country, long term relationship with Johnson who has a long history of sexual harassment allegations. If Johnson is as innocent as he, Rhee and his attorney claims, he sure seems to be a slow learner about avoiding placing himself in situations where he can be vulnerable to accusations of inappropriate behavior.


    How can Rhee not have concerns about the character of Johnson on both a personal relationship and professional level? St. HOPE Academy, founded by Johnson, agreed to pay $423,836.50 over ten years in settlement of allegations that it did not appropriately spend AmeriCorps grants and education awards and did not adequately document spending of grants. The settlement amount represented one-half of the $847,673 in AmeriCorps funds received by St. HOPE Academy over three years from 2004 to 2007. Johnson, St. HOPE Academy’s founder and former CEO, agreed to pay $72,836.50 of St. HOPE Academy’s $73,836.50 initial payment.

    Kevin Johnson is a highly accomplished retired NBA player. The sexual harassment allegations sound all too familiar. Unfortunately the star athletes culture seems to encourage a sense of entitlement mentality. Young students and AmeriCorps workers are vulnerable to sexual harassment. Kudos to the staff who resigned rather than be pressured to cover for Johnson.

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