Issa Probes White House Pressure on U.S. Attorney in Dismissal of AmeriCorps IG

June 16, 2009

WASHINGTON. D.C. – House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Ranking Member Darrell Issa (R-CA) today, in a letter to White House Counsel Gregory Craig, asked that the White House produce all e-mail and other communications with the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California regarding the dismissal of AmeriCorps Inspector General (IG) Gerald Walpin.

“Despite the requirement to notify Congress in advance of firing an IG, the White House moved swiftly to sack an investigator who uncovered wrongdoing and abuse by a political ally of the President,” said Issa.  “This firing contradicts many promises made by this President and raises a number of questions including whether the White House exerted improper political pressure on a U.S. Attorney involved in this case.”

The Inspector General Reform Act of 2008, which President Barack Obama cosponsored, requires that they give Congress 30 days notice before dismissing an IG and provide Congress with an explanation of why such action is necessary. In dismissing an IG who had uncovered misuse of funds by the mayor of Sacramento, a political supporter of the President, the White House immediately placed Mr. Walpin on administrative leave, barred him from returning to his office, and sent Congress a letter stating that the IG would be fired in 30 days citing only, “It is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as Inspectors General.  That is no longer the case with regard to this Inspector General.”

Rep. Issa stated that, intended or not, the firing would have a chilling effect on Inspectors General investigating waste, fraud, and abuse of stimulus funds.  “Because the President did not follow the law in firing an Inspector General and clearly articulating the reasons for his removal, this firing sends a chilling message to all Inspectors General:  investigating a political ally of this President may cost you your job.”

Click here for a copy of the letter to White House Counsel Gregory Craig.