Tuesday, June 16, 2009

 

Obama Fires AmeriCorps Inspector-General Walpin

Commentor Steve at VC wrote: "Here are pdfs of Obama's letter to Pelosi and Greg Craig's letter to Sen. Grassley.

For additional information, here are the Acting US Attorney's letter of complaint about the IG and the IG's written response." Thank you, Steve! These 4 documents (you need all of them) go to the heart of the matter.

(1) Has Obama satisfied the statutory requirement? The point of such a statute is to force the President to come out and give a reason for the firing so that reason can be publicly discussed. I think it would be unconstitutional to require him to give a good reason-- he should be able to say, "I fired him because he's ugly," if he wants to. But the statute still has bite, because now people can criticize the decision. In this case, we can say, "Obama should not fire an IG just because he doesn't have the fullest confidence in him. He admits that he isn't firing the IG because the IG did anything wrong-- it's just a matter of Obama's own feelings. That's a stupid reason, and we think the real reason is something else that Obama can't defend."

(2) The only reason not to think this isn't a gross scandal worthy of impeachment is the strong approval of two other people: Steve Goldsmith, former Indianapolis mayor, and the acting US Attorney Larry Brown (if we do confirm that the President firing an IG because the IG tried to make sure a political ally was punished appropriately for fraudulent use of federal funds isn't that worthy of impeachment?).

I don't know about Goldsmith, even though I'm from Indiana. Any ideas, people? Commentor Kent Scheidegger said that he knew Larry Brown, and that he is a good guy. Larry Brown is a career prosecutor, apparently, not a real Bush appointee, so we don't know his politics. Mr. Scheidegger, do you know if he's a liberal? Does anybody know if he has local or national ambitions that would be relevant? (becoming the actual US Attorney, for example, instead of just Acting)

(3) Steve's the Acting US Attorney's letter of complaint about the IG and the IG's written response " are great reading on the substance of the firing, because they are pro- and con- documents by the people involved. In particular, read Larry Brown's letter. After reading it, I think more than ever that this is a major scandal, if that's the best attack that can be mounted on the IG.

Brown's complaint boils down to saying that the IG has an opinion on whether criminal and civil violations occurred, the IG thinks the US Attorney's office is being slack, and the IG has made public comment on the case instead of letting the US Attorney keep it under wraps. Whether the IG is right or wrong, I thought a big part of his job was to publicize wrongdoing (though not to prosecute). He has no direct power, after all, just the power to investigate, refer, and publicize. He couldn't even suspend the culprit from getting money from his agency-- all he could do was recommend it to the Americorps political leadership, who made the decision first to suspend and then to unsuspend.

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