We reported recently that, according to two board members for the Corporation for National and Community Service, the firing of the agency’s inspector general was initiated by the board, which had developed serious concerns about the IG’s performance. Conservatives had been accusing the White House of firing the IG, Gerald Walpin, for conducting an aggressive investigation into an Obama ally.
And today the Washington Post offers more detail about what caused the board to lose confidence in Walpin, based on documents turned over by CNCS to lawmakers reviewing the firing.
Reports the Post:
Among the documents is a May 2008 parody newsletter published by staff members in Walpin’s office and approved by him as a gift for a retiring assistant inspector general. The newsletter contained fake news articles, including two with racial and sexual jokes referencing the federal procurement process and the government’s use of set-aside programs for minorities and disabled veterans.
One article refers to former New York governor Eliot L. Spitzer’s admitted use of a prostitution service “that specializes in the procurement of blondes, brunettes and redheads.” Another suggested the departing colleague had “finally procured her Federal retirement” from a vendor “known to be owned and operated by a qualified minority-female-veteran-disabled person.”
An employee later complained about the newsletter to agency management, who then addressed the matter with Walpin. He never issued a warning or disciplinary action about the matter, according to corporation officials.
Walpin said that his staff had enjoyed the newsletter’s humor and that no one had directly complained about its content. He acknowledged he spoke with the corporation’s general counsel about the complaints but took no disciplinary actions related to the newsletter because, “I still don’t see where it’s objectionable.”
So there was that.
And of course, we reported that board members also were unsettled by a formal complaint, filed by the local US Attorney, about Walpin’s handling of the probe into the Obama ally, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson. And the fact that at a subsequent board meeting to talk about the issue, Walpin, according to one board member, “became forgetful and couldn’t remember what he had said twenty minutes ago” didn’t improve his standing.
A board member also told us that Walpin’s office had been investigated by CNCS’s Equal Employment Opportunity unit, after a complaint, and that Walpin’s response to the probe had been “intimidating,” according to the staffers conducting it.
Based on memos provided to Congress, the Post sheds a bit more light on that episode:
[Walpin] raised procedural questions and suggested the investigation was handled unfairly, before admitting in a late January e-mail, “I had no prior experience and therefore no knowledge of the procedure.”
Walpin said he cooperated fully with the investigation but objected to its focus and said investigators mishandled transcripts of his testimony related to the complaint.
The bottom line is that the evidence for Walpin’s case that his firing was instigated by the White House for political reasons — rather than by CNCS itself because, through a series of incidents, he lost the confidence of the agency’s board — is looking weaker and weaker.