Conservatives are starting to smell blood on the IG firing story.
Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch — the conservative-leaning government watchdog that made life miserable for President Clinton in the ’90s — tells TPMmuckraker that his group is eager to work with the canned IG, Gerald Walpin, to keep the pressure on the White House over the firing. “We have let it be known that we’d like to talk to Mr. Walpin,” said Fitton.
Fitton declined to say whether his group had already contacted Walpin, and if so, how Walpin had responded. The Plum Line reported earlier this afternoon that Walpin had refused to comment when asked whether Judicial Watch had offered its help.
Walpin certainly doesn’t seem inclined to go softly into that good night. In recent days he’s been continuing his tour of conservative media to push his view that he was fired for going after an Obama ally, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson. And today — in the wake of Sen. Charles Grassley’s demands that the White House offer a more detailed explanation for the firing — Walpin told the Plum Line that he’d like to see congressional hearings over the issue, at which witnesses “testify under oath as to what’s happening.”
But the news out of Sacramento today may have a bigger ultimate effect in stoking the story. The Acting US Attorney there, Lawrence Brown, confirmed to the Sacramento Bee that the FBI is probing obstruction of justice allegations made by a former executive of St. HOPE, the local non-profit, formerly led by Johnson, that Walpin had been looking into.
Rick Maya, who officially quit last week as St. HOPE’s executive director, claimed in a resignation letter written in April that a member of the St. HOPE’s board deleted Johnson’s emails during Walpin’s investigation into the misuse of funds at the non-profit.
Brown’s office now says it has asked the FBI to look into that allegation.
And even Brown’s own role in the saga is now being called into question. The Bee separately reports that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the ranking Republican on the House Oversight committee, today released a statement asking Brown to explain the legal basis for the complaint he filed in April, against Walpin, to a federal oversight body for inspectors general. Brown’s complaint — which came after the US Attorney’s office had declined to bring charges against Johnson — accused Walpin of withholding key information from his findings, and of acting “as the investigator, advocate, judge, jury and town crier” in the case. The complaint was cited by the White House as having contributed to its decision fire Walpin.
The allegations that form the basis for your complaint seem very ordinary, which makes the fact that you pursued sanctions against Mr. Walpin seem extraordinary by contrast. This begs certain questions about the reasons the complaint was filed.
Like we’ve said, this one isn’t going away any time soon.