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The firing of Inspector General Walpin....anyone hear of this?

Old 06-17-09, 02:37 AM
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The firing of Inspector General Walpin....anyone hear of this?

I hadn't heard anything and was trying to find out stuff about Iran, so I took a rare trip to cable news. This was being discussed.
http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=101243

In the wake of the White House's highly controversial firing of an independent inspector general, one U.S. senator is demanding answers and justification, requesting records that extend even to the Office of the First Lady.

As WND reported, President Obama fired Gerald Walpin, the inspector general in charge of rooting out corruption in the AmeriCorps program, shortly after Walpin called for action against a prominent Obama supporter, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who had misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grants.

Walpin told WND he didn't think the timing of his firing was a coincidence, and indeed, he said, "I was fired for doing my job."

Radio host Rush Limbaugh accused the administration of breaking the law by firing Walpin, attributing it to "political cronyism" and declaring, "Alberto Gonzales as attorney general fired a couple of U.S. attorneys. He took hell for it. This is bigger. Inspectors general are supposed to be completely above politics."

Today, according to a report in the Washington Examiner, U.S. Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has demanded both an explanation from the administration and evidence of its dealings with Walpin.

"I am very concerned about the appearance that the I.G.'s communication with my office about this matter may have contributed to his removal," wrote Grassley, referring to reports Walpin had filed with Congress over Johnson's case. "Inspectors general have a statutory duty to report to Congress. Intimidation or retaliation against those who freely communicate their concerns to members of the House and Senate cannot be tolerated."

Grassley's letter to Alan Solomont, head of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which Walpin served as inspector general, also details a strongly worded case in support of Walpin's actions and questions the Corporation's "favorable settlement" and "slap on the wrist" for Johnson.

The letter, reprinted in the Examiner, further demanded "any and all records, email, memoranda, documents, communications or other information, whether in draft or final form" related to a variety of issues, including Walpin's job performance, contacts with the president and "contacts with officials in the Office of the First Lady."

As WND reported, independent federal inspectors general are supposed to be granted special protection from political interference – thanks in part to a law co-sponsored by then-Sen. Barack Obama – to ensure they are free to investigate waste and fraud uninfluenced by political cronyism.

Included in those protections is a requirement that the president submit to Congress, in writing, his reasons for dismissing any inspector general.

President Obama's initial explanation, however, was merely, "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."

"That's a conclusion, not a reason," Walpin told Fox News television host Glenn Beck today. "This is shocking. I know of no other I.G. who has been terminated like this."


Walpin further told Beck he's considering "all alternatives," but said, "The most important thing is that the public knows."

According to the Inspector General Reform Act of 2008, co-sponsored by Obama, inspectors general must also be given 30 days notice of their dismissal.

The firing of Walpin, however, took on a very different form.

Walpin confirmed to WND that he received last week a sudden and unexpected ultimatum from White House counsel Norman L. Eisen: Resign within the hour or suffer being fired.


Walpin refused to resign, replying in an e-mail, "It would do a disservice to the independent scheme that Congress has mandated – and could potentially raise questions about my own integrity – if I were to render what would seem to many a very hasty response to your request."

Grassley, who also co-sponsored the Inspector General Reform Act, immediately protested the White House's action.

"I was troubled to learn that last night your staff reportedly issued an ultimatum to the AmeriCorps Inspector General Gerald Walpin that he had one hour to resign or be terminated," Grassley stated in a letter to the president. "Inspectors general were designed to have a dual role reporting to both the president and Congress so that they would be free from undue political pressure. This independence is the hallmark of all inspectors general and is essential so they may operate independently, without political pressure or interference from agencies attempting to keep their failings from public scrutiny."

Grassley's letter reminded Obama of the statute requiring the president to submit 30 days notice to Congress of an inspector general's dismissal and stated, "No such notice was provided to Congress in this instance."

"We cannot afford to have inspector general independence threatened," Grassley concluded. "In light of the massive increases in federal spending of late, it is more critical than ever that we have an inspector general community that is vigorous, independent and active in rooting out waste, fraud and abuse. I urge you to review the Inspector General Reform Act you co-sponsored and to follow the letter of the law should you have cause to remove any inspector general."

The White House then clarified two issues, explaining that Walpin was not immediately fired, but suspended for 30 days of paid leave as a countdown to his official release, and that his dismissal, indeed, was related to the Johnson investigation.

In a written response to Sen. Grassley, White House counsel Gregory Craig cited an ethics complaint filed against Walpin by the acting U.S. attorney in Sacramento, Lawrence Brown.


Brown had declined to file criminal charges against Johnson, whose organization was found to have used AmeriCorps funds to pay for school board political activities, personal errands and even the washing of Johnson's car. Brown did reach a settlement, however, requiring the organization to pay back over $400,000 of $850,000 in grants it was given through the AmeriCorps program.

Walpin, in turn, filed an objection with Congress over the favorable settlement, an objection some are speculating, led to his firing.

Brown's ethics complaint against Walpin, meanwhile, which contends Walpin was too aggressive and overstepped his authority in the investigation of Johnson, awaits judgment by an integrity committee.

"I have been performing – and my office has been performing – its work with the highest integrity, in the spirit of an independent office, calling the shots as it sees them," Walpin told WND. "The integrity committee will decide the merits of the complaint, but what troubles me is that the White House is apparently relying on the complaint. At this point, it is before an adjudicatory body, and if the White House felt it couldn't wait for that decision, it should have at least waited for me to come in and provide my factual response, so it could consider it. It did not."

And while Walpin has been hesitant to accuse the administration of breaking the law or firing him for strictly political reasons, he did share with WND that he believes the White House's actions have violated the independent mission of the inspectors general, which both Grassley and Obama sought to protect in the 2008 legislation.

"I am sorry for what I believe to be clear interference with the institution of the inspector general," Walpin said. "And I am sorry for the people in my office, who I respect. I took the position because I believed when the president called upon me, it was a great opportunity to give something back to this country. I have done what I believe is right, and I will go on."

So, it appears that Obama fired the guy and didn't follow the law that he co-sponsored which was to give 30 days notice of the reason for termination to congress. They then said that he wasn't fired yet, but they were making him burn paid leave until he was officially fired.

The reason for the firing was an ethics complaint that congress hasn't even issued a ruling on yet.

And it was over a case where Kevin Johnson, big Obama supporter, was found to have used about $400,000 of grant money for things like washing his car, and other personal things.

So.....Obama supporters are okay with all this?

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Old 06-17-09, 04:25 AM
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Re: The firing of Inspector General Walpin....anyone hear of this?

Some more on this from ABC. Sen. McCaskill wrote the law, and says Obama didn't follow it.

Originally Posted by Jake Tapper
Key Obama Ally Says President Obama Did Not Follow the Law in IG Firing
June 16, 2009 6:23 PM

After being briefed today on President Obama’s firing last week of Gerald Walpin, Inspector General of the Corporation for National and Community Service, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said the president did not abide by the same law that he co-sponsored – and she wrote – about firing Inspectors General.

The White House has failed to follow the proper procedure in notifying Congress as to the removal of the Inspector General for the Corporation for National and Community Service,” McCaskill said. “The legislation which was passed last year requires that the president give a reason for the removal.”

McCaskill, a key Obama ally, said that the president’s stated reason for the termination, “Loss of confidence’ is not a sufficient reason.”

She added that she was “hopeful the White House will provide a more substantive rationale, in writing, as quickly as possible.”

Last edited by Dimension X; 06-17-09 at 04:27 AM.
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Old 06-17-09, 08:10 AM
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Re: The firing of Inspector General Walpin....anyone hear of this?

I saw this on the Beck show the other day. This is only the tip of the iceberg of what is going on in Washington these days, but nobody cares.
Today on the morning news tv show they're building up Obama more as he kills a fly in a interview with his bare hands. Like that should be a top story.
Who the hell hasn't killed a fly with their hands? I have.
But I haven't seen the full Walpin story on any of the tv networks- not that i've seen.
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Old 06-17-09, 08:18 AM
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Re: The firing of Inspector General Walpin....anyone hear of this?

it's OK, the media is like that

first you can do no wrong and then something snaps and they attack you like rabid dogs
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Old 06-17-09, 08:56 AM
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Re: The firing of Inspector General Walpin....anyone hear of this?

Haven't taken time to study it to figure what's going on but the WSJ had something to say too:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124511811033017539.html
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Old 06-17-09, 09:41 AM
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Re: The firing of Inspector General Walpin....anyone hear of this?

Yahoo news has the story from the AP.

Yahoo story

Democratic senator questions AmeriCorps firing

WASHINGTON – A Democratic senator on Tuesday joined Republicans in questioning President Barack Obama's firing of the internal watchdog for the federal AmeriCorps program.

Gerald Walpin, the national service agency's inspector general, was dismissed over his handling of an investigation of the mayor of Sacramento, Calif., Kevin Johnson, an Obama supporter during the presidential campaign.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said the president failed to follow a law she sponsored, which requires that he give Congress 30 days advance notice of an inspector general's dismissal, along with the cause for the firing. Obama merely said he had lost confidence in Walpin.

"Loss of confidence is not a sufficient reason," McCaskill said. "I'm hopeful the White House will provide a more substantive rationale, in writing, as quickly as possible."

Late Tuesday, Obama's special counsel offered some details in a letter, saying Walpin engaged in "trouble and inappropriate conduct."

Norman Eisen sent a letter to McCaskill, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, describing Walpin as "confused, disoriented, unable to answer questions" during a May meeting. Eisen said the behavior led board members to question his capacity to serve.

"Mr. Walpin had become unduly disruptive to agency operations, impairing his effectiveness" and lost the confidence of the board, Eisen wrote.


Last week, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, asked for information on any role first lady Michelle Obama's office may have played in the decision.

Grassley requested "any and all records, e-mail, memoranda, documents, communications or other information" related to contacts with officials in the first lady's office.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Mrs. Obama played no role in the president's decision to remove Walpin.

Michelle Obama's former chief of staff, Jackie Norris, is expected to join the Corporation for National and Community Service as senior adviser on June 22.

White House counsel Gregory Craig, in a letter to Grassley, cited criticism of Walpin's investigation of Johnson, a former all-star point guard for the Phoenix Suns professional basketball team.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., also asked the White House for documents on the firing.

"Despite the requirement to notify Congress in advance of firing ... the White House moved swiftly to sack an investigator who uncovered wrongdoing and abuse by a political ally of the president," said Issa, senior Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

In September 2008, Walpin's office found misuse of federal grants by Johnson and the St. HOPE Academy, a nonprofit education program he founded. Johnson and St. HOPE ultimately agreed to repay half of $847,000 in grants they had received from AmeriCorps between 2004 and 2007.
I guess it all depends on how much buzz this story gets. Looks like Grassley got involved last week? And now McCaskill is getting involved. The administration has started to put out their side of the story. It all depends on who you believe. I wouldn't put it past them to sack Walpin for going after KJ though.
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Old 06-17-09, 10:34 AM
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Re: The firing of Inspector General Walpin....anyone hear of this?

Here's a fairly thorough write-up:

Obama Removes AmeriCorps IG Who Clashed With Ally: Politicized Firing, Or Just Dessert?

By Zachary Roth - June 12, 2009, 3:40PM

We weren't sure what to make of the news that President Obama has decided to fire the inspector general of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). The IG, Gerald Walpin, had been investigating the misuse of federal AmeriCorps funds by a nonprofit group run by Kevin Johnson, a former NBA basketball player and Obama supporter who's now the mayor of Sacramento.

But since we think of politicized firings as kind of our beat, we figured it was worth looking into. So here's a quick rundown on how things got to where they are, based on reporting by the Sacramento Bee:

- In April 2008, federal agents (meaning Walpin's IG office, it seems, though the reporting is unclear) began investigating the use of federal grant money by the St. HOPE Academy, a Sacramento non-profit then run by Johnson.

- The following month, local law enforcement announced that no criminal case could be made against Johnson, but the federal probe continued.

- In June, Johnson beat the incumbent mayor, Heather Fargo, in the Democratic primary. But because he didn't win 50 percent of the vote, he would have to face her again in a runoff in November.

- Later that month, the Bee reported that the federal investigation into St. HOPE had expanded to look at the possible misuse of $807,000 in AmeriCorps funds.

- In September, the federal probe was turned over to the U.S. attorney's office in Sacramento.

- Later that month, Walpin, on behalf of CNCS, released the findings of the federal probe, which it appears he had led. Walpin found that St. HOPE had improperly used hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money, by using AmeriCorps volunteers to run errands for Johnson, wash his car, and do political work relating to a local school board race. Saying he had found "potential criminal violations," Walpin recommended that while the US attorney's office's investigation was ongoing, Johnson and another St. HOPE official be barred from receiving federal money. But as the Bee would later note in an editorial, "Walpin decided to act before any legal body determined whether irregularities in the administration of grants from 2004-2007 reflected inadvertent errors and ignorance of regulations or actual fraud."

- Nonetheless, days later, a "debarment official" at CNCS followed up on Walpin's recommendation, taking the rare step of issuing a letter suspending Johnson and the other official from receiving federal funds. Walpin touted the news in "huge red headlines" on his IG website, according to the Bee.

- The Bee would later find that, since its inception in 1994, the NCSC had suspended only two other organizations and three other people, and that the irregularities at St. HOPE were similar to those found at other nonprofits that were not suspended.

- Johnson's camp called the findings "relatively minor issues," and called Walpin, who was appointed to his post by President Bush, a "right-wing Republican." Johnson's campaign cited a 2005 incident in which Walpin had introduced Mitt Romney at a meeting of the conservative Federalist Society -- on whose board Walpin sits -- by saying that Romney served as governor of a state, Massachusetts, run by the "modern-day KKK ... the Kennedy-Kerry Klan."

- On November 4, Johnson won the mayor's race 57-42 over Fargo.

- Two days later, US attorney McGregor Scott, a Bush appointee, announced that the investigation into the misuse of funds did not warrant criminal charges. Scott said he had asked Walpin's office to go back and conduct a line-by-line audit to help determine whether civil charges should be filed, implying that Walpin's probe had been insufficiently detailed.

- In March, 2009, a government consulting expert hired by the city of Sacramento concluded that Johnson's continuing disbarment from receiving federal funds was likely to prevent the city from getting federal stimulus dollars -- a finding Johnson quickly disputed.

- In April, the US Attorney's office announced a settlement with Johnson, which would involve Johnson, St. HOPE, and the other official repaying over $400,000 in grants it received, and would allow him to again receive federal money.

- That same month, the new acting US attorney, Lawrence Brown wrote a letter to a federal oversight body for inspectors general, asking it to review Walpin's work on the St. HOPE investigation. According to the AP, Brown wrote: "We also highlighted numerous questions and further investigation they needed to conduct, including the fact that they had not done an audit to establish how much AmeriCorps money was actually misspent."

- Then in May, Walpin submitted a "Special Report to Congress" that called the settlement "a farce" and declared that claiming it was in the government's interest "is an attempt to pull the wool over the public's eyes."

- And now we hear that Obama has decided to get rid of Walpin. In a letter to Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), White House Counsel Greg Craig referred to Brown's letter criticizing Walpin, and wrote, according to the AP: "We are aware of the circumstances leading to that referral and of Mr. Walpin's conduct throughout his tenure and can assure you that the president's decision was carefully considered."

So here's what it sounds like: Johnson and his non-profit ran a very loose operation, which deserved some kind of sanction. But Walpin's action -- in publicly suggesting, without much apparent evidence, that Johnson might have committed a crime, and having Johnson barred from receiving federal funds, ultimately jeopardizing the fortunes of the city as a whole after Johnson became mayor -- was out of all proportion to the wrongdoing. (That's especially true given that it could have affected the outcome of a closely fought election -- which is exactly why the FBI has specific policies forbidding public comments about ongoing investigations during political campaign season.) Then, even once the relevant authorities had determined that no crime had been committed and agreed on an appropriate remedy, Walpin worked to undermine that agreement by appealing to Congress.

The White House should probably offer some more specific details about its reasons for firing Walpin, beyond simply referring to Brown's letter -- a spokesman didn't respond to our request for comment. That's especially true given that Walpin had been skirmishing with an Obama ally, raising the specter of a politicized firing. But on its face, it seems like Obama may have had ample reason for making the decision he did.
http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmem..._with_ally.php

My take: President Obama was right to fire this guy, and his explanation of why was probably within the letter of the law but not within the spirit of the law.
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Old 06-17-09, 11:14 AM
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Re: The firing of Inspector General Walpin....anyone hear of this?

Well, it's good to know that stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars constitutes a relatively minor issue and usually doesn't result in a non-profit's flow of gov't cash getting cutting off. Guess I should get to work on starting one.
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Old 06-17-09, 11:30 AM
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Re: The firing of Inspector General Walpin....anyone hear of this?

Obama's, and his administration's hubris is gonna get worse.

This doesn't surprise me at all.
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Old 06-17-09, 11:37 AM
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Re: The firing of Inspector General Walpin....anyone hear of this?

As a Suns fan I approve of this firing.
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Old 06-17-09, 11:49 AM
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Re: The firing of Inspector General Walpin....anyone hear of this?

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
My take: President Obama was right to fire this guy, and his explanation of why was probably within the letter of the law but not within the spirit of the law.
One would think that if you were to take "their word" for things that Walpin supposedly did, you would at least wait to see what happens with the ethics violations that congress will rule on. Fortunately, Walpin does not have a union for Obama to contend with. Then he would have to follow some rules.
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Old 06-17-09, 01:48 PM
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Re: The firing of Inspector General Walpin....anyone hear of this?

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
Here's a fairly thorough write-up:



http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmem..._with_ally.php

My take: President Obama was right to fire this guy, and his explanation of why was probably within the letter of the law but not within the spirit of the law.
From the Inspector General Act of 1978...

(a) It shall be the duty and responsibility of each Inspector General, with respect to the establishment within which his Office is established—
(1) to provide policy direction for and to conduct, supervise, and coordinate audits and investigations relating to the programs and operations of such establishment;
(2) to review existing and proposed legislation and regulations relating to programs and operations of such establishment and to make recommendations in the semiannual reports required by section 5 (a) concerning the impact of such legislation or regulations on the economy and efficiency in the administration of programs and operations administered or financed by such establishment or the prevention and detection of fraud and abuse in such programs and operations;
(3) to recommend policies for, and to conduct, supervise, or coordinate other activities carried out or financed by such establishment for the purpose of promoting economy and efficiency in the administration of, or preventing and detecting fraud and abuse in, its programs and operations;
(4) to recommend policies for, and to conduct, supervise, or coordinate relationships between such establishment and other Federal agencies, State and local governmental agencies, and nongovernmental entities with respect to
(A) all matters relating to the promotion of economy and efficiency in the administration of, or the prevention and detection of fraud and abuse in, programs and operations administered or financed by such establishment, or
(B) the identification and prosecution of participants in such fraud or abuse; and
(5) to keep the head of such establishment and the Congress fully and currently informed, by means of the reports required by section 5 and otherwise, concerning fraud and other serious problems, abuses, and deficiencies relating to the administration of programs and operations administered or financed by such establishment, to recommend corrective action concerning such problems, abuses, and deficiencies, and to report on the progress made in implementing such corrective action.
I assume you would agree with the quote from the Bee's editorial in your post which state:

Originally Posted by Sacramento Bee Editorial
"Walpin decided to act before any legal body determined whether irregularities in the administration of grants from 2004-2007 reflected inadvertent errors and ignorance of regulations or actual fraud."
Also from your post...

In a letter to Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), White House Counsel Greg Craig referred to [U.S. Attorney Lawrence] Brown's letter criticizing Walpin, and wrote, according to the AP: "We are aware of the circumstances leading to that referral and of Mr. Walpin's conduct throughout his tenure and can assure you that the president's decision was carefully considered."
Even if all of the facts are consistent with your presentation, would you not agree that President Obama should wait until the integrity committee has issued a ruling on the ethics complaint filed by Brown? It would certainly appear to me that this ruling will clarify the matter completely, if the ruling is against Walpin, then the firing is founded and Obama can provide notice of his intent to fire to Congress in compliance with his own co-sponsored legislation. If the ruling is in favor of Walpin, then it would appear that he has simply been doing his job according to his job description.

Unless, maybe, you can point to the special "If I become President I can fire whoever I damn well please whenever I damn well please" clause that Obama inserted into the 2008 legislation.
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Old 06-17-09, 01:55 PM
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Re: The firing of Inspector General Walpin....anyone hear of this?

You dare question the Obama?
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Old 06-17-09, 02:12 PM
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Re: The firing of Inspector General Walpin....anyone hear of this?

This sure seems like the Bush Administration firing of the U.S. Attorneys. I assume Democrats will be demanding an investigation like they did of that?

Oh, but there is a difference. The U.S. Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President. The Inspectors General don't, and can only be fired for cause.

Another thing that Democrats were all over the Bush Administration about was blocking access to White House visitor logs. Guess who's doing that too?

Obama blocks list of visitors to White House
Taking Bush's position, administration denies msnbc.com request for logs

By Bill Dedman
Investigative reporter
msnbc.com
updated 1:54 p.m. PT, Tues., June 16, 2009

The Obama administration is fighting to block access to names of visitors to the White House, taking up the Bush administration argument that a president doesn't have to reveal who comes calling to influence policy decisions.

Despite President Barack Obama's pledge to introduce a new era of transparency to Washington, and despite two rulings by a federal judge that the records are public, the Secret Service has denied msnbc.com's request for the names of all White House visitors from Jan. 20 to the present. It also denied a narrower request by the nonpartisan watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which sought logs of visits by executives of coal companies.

Updated: CREW says it filed suit Tuesday against the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Secret Service. Here's a copy of CREW's complaint.

"We are deeply disappointed," said CREW attorney Anne L. Weismann, "that the Obama administration is following the same anti-transparency policy as the Bush administration when it comes to White House visitor records. Refusing to let the public know who visits the White House is not the action of a pro-transparency, pro-accountability administration."

Updated: The White House reiterated that the policy is under review. See transcript below.

Groups that advocate open government have argued that it's vital to know the names of White House visitors, who may have an outsized influence on policy matters.

The visitor logs have been released in only a few isolated cases, most notably records of visits by lobbyist Jack Abramoff to the Bush White House, and in the "filegate" investigation of the Clinton White House. Only the Bush and Obama administrations are known to have made an argument in court that the visitor logs should be private.

The Obama administration is arguing that the White House visitor logs are presidential records — not Secret Service agency records, which would be subject to the Freedom of Information Act. The administration ought to be able to hold secret meetings in the White House, "such as an elected official interviewing for an administration position or an ambassador coming for a discussion on issues that would affect international negotiations," said Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt.

These same arguments, made by the Bush administration, were rejected twice by a federal judge. The visitor logs are created by the Secret Service and maintained by the Secret Service, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ruled in 2007 and again this January. CREW had requested records of visits to the Bush White House, as well as the residence of Vice President Dick Cheney, by leaders of Religious Right organizations.

The Bush administration appealed Lamberth's decision, and the Obama administration has continued to press that appeal.

"It is the government's position," the Secret Service wrote last week to msnbc.com in denying access to the visitor logs, "that the vast majority, if not all, of the records ... are not agency records subject to the FOIA. Rather, these records are records governed by the Presidential Records Act" and "remain under the exclusive legal custody and control of the White Office and the Office of the Vice President. After the resolution of this litigation, we will respond further to your request if necessary."

The visitor records are kept in two databases:

Worker and Visitor Entry System (WAVES). This Secret Service database includes information submitted to the Secret Service about individuals who have a planned visit to the White House. This information includes the name of the pass holder submitting the request, the date of the request, the time and location of the planned visit and the nature of the visit or the person to be visited. This information may be updated with the actual date and time of entry and exit. Msnbc.com also requested lists submitted to the Secret Service of groups or delegations of visitors with planned visits to the White House.

Access Control Records System (ACES). This Secret Service database includes information generated when a pass holder, worker or visitor swipes a permanent or temporary pass over an electronic reader at entrances or exits. This information includes the name of the visitor, the badge number, the post or location, and the date and time of entry or exit.

No private information requested
Msnbc.com excluded from its request any private information on the White House visitors. It asked that the Secret Service delete from the logs any dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and home addresses (other than city and state).

In addition, msnbc.com asked the Secret Service to exclude information on security precautions and the results of background checks on prospective visitors.

The Bush White House had taken several steps to close off access to the visitor logs, steps repeatedly rejected by the federal judge.

In May 2006, the Bush White House signed a memorandum of understanding with the Secret Service, declaring that the logs are agency records, under White House control.

In October 2006, CREW sought records of visits by nine religious leaders: James Dobson, Gary L. Bauer, Wendy Wright, Louis P. Sheldon, Andrea Lafferty, Paul Weyrich, Tony Perkins, Donald Wildmon and Jerry Falwell.

The Bush position was rejected in December 2007 by Judge Lamberth, a former federal prosecutor who was appointed to the bench by President Ronald Reagan. Lamberth gave the White House 20 days to hand over the public records. But CREW did not get the visitor logs.

In September 2008, Homeland Security said that it did not plan to release the visitor logs, claiming that the visitor logs were protected by the presidential communication privilege in the law.

Judge Lamberth ruled again, denying that claim on Jan. 9. The judge wrote that a simple list of visitors is not a communication at all, because it includes no details on the topics discussed during a meeting, and therefore is not protected by a presidential communication privilege.

The Bush administration appealed on Jan. 14, a week before the end of President Bush's term of office.

In late January and again in May, the Obama administration had opportunities to change course, when it filed papers in the appeals court, but stuck with the Bush position.

In February, the White House spokesman, LaBolt, told msnbc.com that the policy was under review. "We are reviewing our policy on access to visitor logs and related litigation involving the previous administration to determine how we can ensure that policymaking in this administration happens in an open and transparent way, and that we take appropriate measures to ensure that we are operating in a secure environment."

But last week, in denial letters to msnbc.com and CREW, the Secret Service continued to cite the Bush position.

Asked Monday whether the White House plans to continue to oppose release of the records, White House spokesman LaBot said the policy is still under review. He also cited a list of "the unprecedented steps the administration has taken to promote openness and transparency." These include instructing all agencies to adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure in Freedom of Information Act decisions, and overturning the practice of allowing other executives, aside from the president, to assert executive privilege to block access to an administration's records.

Unpersuaded was the attorney for the watchdog group CREW, which was formed in 2003 during the Bush administration to increase open government.

"It's great that President Obama made this commitment to transparency," attorney Weismann said. "But now you need to make good on it."

---

Here's an official transcript of White House spokesman Robert Gibbs discussing the issue at Tuesday's press briefing:

Q What's the policy going to be on release of the names of White House visitors?

MR. GIBBS: The policy -- as you know, I think many of you know, this has involved -- visitor logs have been involved in some litigation dating back to some time in 2006. The White House is reviewing that policy based on some of that litigation.

Q So it's just you're not going either way on it now, and you're not refusing to --

MR. GIBBS: We're reviewing what has been the policy of -- the previous policy.

Q Who is doing that review?

MR. GIBBS: The White House Counsel's Office and other people in the administration.

Q What's the length of the review?

MR. GIBBS: I don't know the exact timeline.

Q Is there a mandate to be more transparent than the previous administration?

MR. GIBBS: I think we ran on that --

Q In this specific regard?

MR. GIBBS: That's what's under review.

Q Is that the goal?

MR. GIBBS: What's the goal?

Q Isn't that the goal, to be more transparent on these visitor logs than the previous administration?

MR. GIBBS: The goal is -- and I think the President, who underscored his commitment to transparency on his first full day in office -- this is not a contest between this administration or that administration, or any administration; it's to uphold the principle of open government.

Q Why would the President have any objection to the public knowing who is coming in here to visit?

MR. GIBBS: I think we've taken actions to let people know who are. I think again, Peter, this dates back to litigation long before we ever showed up.

Q Do you think you might have to uphold precedent here, possibly?

MR. GIBBS: That's part of what's being reviewed by the Counsel's Office.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31373407...s-white_house/
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Old 06-17-09, 02:13 PM
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Re: The firing of Inspector General Walpin....anyone hear of this?

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
You dare question the Obama?
"the Obama"
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Old 06-17-09, 02:15 PM
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Re: The firing of Inspector General Walpin....anyone hear of this?

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
You dare question the Obama?




Stone him!
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Old 06-17-09, 02:26 PM
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Re: The firing of Inspector General Walpin....anyone hear of this?

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This sure seems like the Bush Administration firing of the U.S. Attorneys. I assume Democrats will be demanding an investigation like they did of that?

Oh, but there is a difference. The U.S. Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President. The Inspectors General don't, and can only be fired for cause.

Another thing that Democrats were all over the Bush Administration about was blocking access to White House visitor logs. Guess who's doing that too?
This should show everyone what many of us have said for a long time. There is really no difference between the two parties. One may lean capitalist, and one may lean socialist, but they are essentially the same kinds of people.

Welcome to the new heights of transparency, people.
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Old 06-17-09, 02:36 PM
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Re: The firing of Inspector General Walpin....anyone hear of this?

Originally Posted by X View Post
This sure seems like the Bush Administration firing of the U.S. Attorneys. I assume Democrats will be demanding an investigation like they did of that?

Oh, but there is a difference. The U.S. Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President. The Inspectors General don't, and can only be fired for cause.
I think any statute that purports to limit the ability of the President to fire either a USA or an IG is unconstitutional. Both positions are in the executive branch, and serve at the pleasure of the President.

I never said President Bush did not have a legal right to do what he did, and if we see a pattern of President Obama firing IGs who disagree with him politically, then I think an investigation will be warranted.

Another thing that Democrats were all over the Bush Administration about was blocking access to White House visitor logs. Guess who's doing that too?
I agree that this is indefensible. There may be room for small carve-outs (for example, if there truly is an ambassador coming for some secret meeting that would create international diplomacy problems if it were widely known), but in general, these should be disclosed.
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Old 06-17-09, 08:30 PM
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Re: The firing of Inspector General Walpin....anyone hear of this?

Norman Eisen sent a letter to McCaskill, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, describing Walpin as "confused, disoriented, unable to answer questions" during a May meeting. Eisen said the behavior led board members to question his capacity to serve.
So he was fired for imitating Joe Biden?
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Old 06-17-09, 08:43 PM
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Re: The firing of Inspector General Walpin....anyone hear of this?

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
I think any statute that purports to limit the ability of the President to fire either a USA or an IG is unconstitutional. Both positions are in the executive branch, and serve at the pleasure of the President.

I never said President Bush did not have a legal right to do what he did, and if we see a pattern of President Obama firing IGs who disagree with him politically, then I think an investigation will be warranted.
That may be all well and good. However, as a senator, Barak Obama voted for a bill that made it mandatory for 30 days notice to be given before firing an Inspector General. And Congress is to be provided the reason for that firing. And he didn't do that.

Here's what Claire McCaskill had to say about it...

"The White House has failed to follow the proper procedure in notifying Congress as to the removal of the Inspector General for the Corporation for National and Community Service," McCaskill said in a statement. "The legislation which was passed last year requires that the president give a reason for the removal. 'Loss of confidence' is not a sufficient reason. I'm hopeful the White House will provide a more substantive rationale, in writing, as quickly as possible."
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Old 06-17-09, 09:07 PM
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Re: The firing of Inspector General Walpin....anyone hear of this?

I'm starting to think I wish Clinton would have won the nomination (and the election). At least then when this shit happened no one would be disappointed.
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Old 06-17-09, 09:12 PM
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Re: The firing of Inspector General Walpin....anyone hear of this?

Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet View Post
I'm starting to think I wish Clinton would have won the nomination (and the election). At least then when this shit happened no one would be disappointed.
You sound like you've lost "HOPE".

What you said is very true. Obama is just another politician and should never have been considered anything else. But his great strength during the campaign was making people think otherwise.
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Old 06-17-09, 09:32 PM
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Re: The firing of Inspector General Walpin....anyone hear of this?

Of course he's a politician. He's been in politics for the past 15 years. The idea that he's not always seemed like a straw man set up by people who wanted to be able to say "Aha! He's a politician!"
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Old 06-17-09, 10:10 PM
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Re: The firing of Inspector General Walpin....anyone hear of this?

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
Of course he's a politician. He's been in politics for the past 15 years. The idea that he's not always seemed like a straw man set up by people who wanted to be able to say "Aha! He's a politician!"
I'll disagree. A great many of his supporters felt that he was not just another politician, that he was somehow above the fray, something better.
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Old 06-17-09, 10:18 PM
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Re: The firing of Inspector General Walpin....anyone hear of this?

Originally Posted by Pharoh View Post
I'll disagree. A great many of his supporters felt that he was not just another politician, that he was somehow above the fray, something better.
We have a number on this forum who believed (probably still due) just that.
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