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EDITORIAL: Return of Walpin-gate

- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 8, 2009

When last we left Gerald Walpin, the unfairly fired inspector general for the Corporation for National and Community Service, he had filed a lawsuit on July 17 protesting his dismissal. He submitted technical amendments to his complaint on July 24, and the government was supposed to respond within 60 days. Seventy-five days later, the government still is stonewalling.

Justice delayed is justice denied.

Government lawyers Tony West, Channing Phillips, Susan Rudy and Kathryn Wyer filed for an extension until Oct. 26, explaining that they were only "recently assigned this case." It's odd, though, that when it suits the White House's political needs, it finds grounds to fire Mr. Walpin immediately, without proper notice, but when it comes to responding to his complaint, it can't manage to move fast enough to meet court rules that are entirely reasonable.

Mr. Walpin was fired shortly after releasing two reports highly critical of close allies of the White House. He was fired without any independent White House investigation of the lame claims against him. Those claims were, first, that he was "disoriented" at a single meeting, and second, that he had the temerity to write an unapproved letter to the editor of a California newspaper to defend, entirely accurately, his investigation of a political ally of President Obama. As fireable offenses go, especially for a quasi-independent official such as an inspector general, his supposed transgressions rank in importance somewhere between piddling and nonexistent.

More important, they rank far below the importance of the transgressions on which Mr. Walpin was blowing the whistle. For instance, he had unearthed major misuse of funds by AmeriCorps grantee Kevin Johnson, a former professional basketball star and Obama friend who is now mayor of Sacramento. Giving further credence to Mr. Walpin's work, the FBI since has opened an investigation into the Johnson case.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican and longtime supporter of government whistleblowers, has been so angered at the refusal of the White House and the Corporation for National and Community Service board to turn over documents related to the strange firing of Mr. Walpin that he put an official hold on the nomination of corporation board chairman Alan D. Solomont to be ambassador to Spain. The hold is entirely justified. The White House's defenestration of an honest IG, without adequate explanation, is a scandal.