- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 22, 2011


A senior Republican senator is determined to force the U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic to give up his post over charges that the envoy misled Congress two years ago when he served as an adviser to President Obama.

With the simple words, “I intend to object,” Sen. Charles E. Grassley blocked the Senate this week from considering the nomination of Norman L. Eisen to serve a full term as the ambassador in Prague.

Mr. Obama appointed Mr. Eisen in January during a congressional recess after Mr. Grassley had succeeded in blocking the nomination last year. However, the ambassador’s term ends on Dec. 31 unless the Senate confirms his nomination.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved the appointment, but Mr. Eisen is unlikely to get full Senate consideration as long as the Iowa Republican objects.

Mr. Grassley explained his complaints against Mr. Eisen’s nomination in a statement inserted this week in the Congressional Record.

“I object to the … nomination because of Mr. Eisen’s role in the firing of the inspector-general of the Corporation for National and Community Service and his lack of candor about that matter when questioned by congressional investigators,” Mr. Grassley said.

In 2009, Mr. Eisen, then serving as the “ethics czar” in the White House, ordered Gerald Walpin to resign or be fired after the inspector general concluded that a politically powerful friend of Mr. Obama’s had misused a federal grant.

Kevin Johnson, the mayor of Sacramento, Calif., and a former professional basketball player, was accused of improperly spending much of an $850,000 grant from AmeriCorps for St. Hope Academy, a nonprofit school he founded in the state capital. The academy later agreed to repay about half the grant in a settlement, and Mr. Johnson, who ran the school from 2004 to 2007, paid a portion of the settlement.

Federal investigators concluded that the misuse of the funds was not criminal.

However, Mr. Grassley, the senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee, complained that Mr. Eisen had violated a law protecting inspectors general from political retaliation.

Mr. Eisen also “misled congressional investigators” probing the Walpin affair, Mr. Grassley said in a letter in January to Robert Bauer, then a White House lawyer.


U.S. Ambassador Anne W. Patterson realized Washington had a major image problem after a state-owned newspaper called her the “ambassador from hell” when she arrived in Cairo last month.

The U.S. image in Egypt is the “subject of some considerable frustration for those of us in the embassy and the U.S. government,” she told the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt last week.

“It is of great concern that the United States does not have a better public image here in Egypt because we feel we’ve had a long, productive relationship with Egypt,” Mrs. Patterson said.

The United States has given Egypt $1.5 billion a year since Egypt signed the Camp David Accords recognizing Israel in 1978. In February, President Obama also urged Hosni Mubarak to step down as Egyptian president shortly after anti-government protests erupted there.

Mrs. Patterson predicted that Egypt’s military rulers will honor a pledge to hand over authority to an elected government after elections later this year.

“It’s going to be temporary,” she said of the Arab nation’s military rule.

The ambassador also expressed confidence that the military rulers will phase out an emergency law that was expanded after a mob attacked the Israeli Embassy earlier this month.

“We hope the law will be phased out,” she said. “But we see a democratic process on track under the leadership of the military council.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email [email protected] The column is published on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

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