- Obama military downsizing leaves U.S. too weak to counter global threats, panel finds
- Sen. Tom Coburn vows to slow down budget-busting bills ahead of recess
- Obama fantasizes about more executive power, signs new order on federal contractors
- Clintons call Klein, Halper, Kessler ‘a Hat Trick of despicable actors’: report
- Boehner accuses Obama of ‘legacy of lawlessness’
- Pro-marijuana group claims responsibility for Brooklyn Bridge flag swap
- Young adults shun Obamacare mostly due to cost: survey
- Stabbing attack on transgender girl, 15, was ‘bias motivated,’ police say
- LGBT adults still lean overwhelmingly toward Democratic Party
- Lawmakers rattled by Syria genocide horrors, call on Obama to act
EDITORIAL: Obama’s attack on the independence of inspectors general
Government fraud investigators need freedom to pursue waste
Question of the Day
Inspectors general are the taxpayers’ policemen. Their beat is the corridors of the bureaucracy, which they patrol for waste, fraud, abuse and even crime. This often puts them at odds with a president, his administration and his congressional allies.
Not long after settling into the White House, President Obama fired Gerald Walpin, the inspector general for AmeriCorps, because he had exposed a scam involving a close presidential friend. Mr. Walpin filed a report about the misuse of $847,000 in grant money by Kevin Johnson, the mayor of Sacramento, Calif. Mr. Johnson, a former NBA star, was accused of using government cash to pay “volunteers” to keep his car sparkling clean and to run personal errands. The firing of Mr. Walpin sent a clear signal to his colleagues: Investigate a friend of the president, and you’ll be looking for a new job. Many got the message.
Other inspectors general are like the Treasury Department’s J. Russell George, whose job is in jeopardy because he uncovered facts that some prefer to keep quiet. Mr. George testified about the IRS scheme to undermine Tea Party groups, drawing the ire of two Democratic congressmen, Reps. Gerald E. Connolly of Virginia and Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania. They filed a formal complaint with a special watchdog council that oversees the inspectors general. The congressmen questioned Mr. George’s “independence, ethics, competence and quality control” in the hopes that the council would impose sanctions.
On Wednesday, Patrick Sullivan, an assistant inspector general at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), revealed a coordinated scheme by political appointees inside the agency to interfere with investigations. Testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Mr. Sullivan said that the appointees have operated as a “rogue law enforcement agency,” blocking oversight by the EPA’s inspector general for years.
Staff members at the EPA kept investigators away from critical documents relating to the “work” of John Beale, the EPA employee who fancied himself James Bond on a secret mission for the CIA. His supervisors fell for an implausible story enabling him to steal nearly $1 million in undeserved pay and bonuses over a decade. He even scored a handicap parking spot.
Rather than try to find other John Beales, the EPA continued the cover-up and let employees get away with whatever they pleased. One senior EPA manager sold jewelry and weight-loss products out of her office. She was not only not fired, but received a presidential rank award and a bonus check for $35,000. Another bonus went to an employee who performed no work at all.
An employee making six figures received checks for two years after he retired to a nursing home. His supervisor put him on “sick leave” to keep the money flowing. Whenever Mr. Sullivan got close to exposing an inconvenient truth, the EPA played the “national security” card to deny him access to necessary material.
Inspectors general are not generally denied access to such material, and Mr. Sullivan’s resume includes stints at the FBI and Secret Service, evidence that he’s capable of handling sensitive material. “This is truly a broken agency… ,” says Rep. Darrell E. Issa, chairman of the oversight committee. “The EPA has a long history that has now become intolerable to the American people.”
Only draining the swamp of corruption, incompetence and waste will restore public confidence in the IRS, the EPA and the rest of the federal bureaucracy. Then the inspectors general can operate with full independence, unrestrained by the fear of who they might offend.
About the Author
- 'Standing by Israel' special report
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Ventura's court win is really a loss
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Ukraine is not so easily understood
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Reagan didn't deregulate airlines
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Don't fund irrelevant 'highway' projects
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
Both parties recognize the Democrats' scam
Get Breaking Alerts
- Inside the Ring: Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Chicken pox outbreak puts illegal immigrant facility on lockdown
- Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
- Report: 40% of weapons sent to Afghanistan are unaccounted for
- Catholic League slams Obama: 'Do Christian lives mean so little to you?'
- GOP leaders delay border bill, leave Obama in control
- CIA admits improperly hacking Senate computers in search of Bush-era information
- Sarah Palin's online channel hits snag as Stephen Colbert buys similar URL
- 'Big Bang' star Mayim Bialik helps send bulletproof vests to IDF
- EDITORIAL: Pols' misrepresentations fuel public's cynicism about politics
- EDITORIAL: 'Operation Choke Point': A noose for business
- EDITORIAL: For too many gays, 'tolerance' is a one-way street
- EDITORIAL: The real Lois Lerner exposed in newly released emails
- EDITORIAL: Meriam Ibrahim's happy immigrant story