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6/18/2009
THE CHICAGO WAY TO DEAL WITH NOSY IG’S

In Chicago politics, if someone starts investigating you, your cronies, or your dubiously legal activities, you basically have three options:

1. Come clean, beg for mercy, and agree to wear a wire to meetings with your partners in crime.

2. Send some goons to pay a visit to the investigator and try to persuade him that it is in the best interest of his continuing good health that he investigate someone else.

3. Get the investigator fired. (Preferable to #2 because goons are a big expense and not always feasible or available.)

In the case of nosy, independent-minded Inspector Generals, the Obama administration has eschewed the Goon Option for simply canning IG’s who displease them for peeking into the dark corners of the administration to sniff out corruption.

The tale of AmeriCorps IG Gerald Walpin has been instructive. Already a thorn in the administration’s side for barring Obama ally Sacramento Mayor Dennis Johnson from receiving any more AmeriCorps grants last year because hizonner insisted on using the monies for personal and political activities, Walpin really raised the hackles of Obama’s politicos when he refused to reinstate the mayor’s grant privileges so he would be eligible to dip into the stim fund cookie jar.

Getting in the way of a Chicago politician seeking to reward a friend is crazy, according to the White House. Or, at least, it shows that the IG who isn’t playing the game must be suffering from some kind of dementia as the Obama crew crudely smeared Walpin by saying that his firing was an “emergency” because he was so “confused” and “disoriented” that it questioned his “capacity to serve.”

Yes, that sort of thing happens in Chicago too although most of the time, it’s done with a little more subtly. Nothing so crude as a press release from the Mayor’s office accusing a high ranking bureaucrat of losing his mind. More likely, a call to a friendly reporter accusing him of being a drunk or having an affair suffices in the Windy City.

The effect is the same. Rather than giving legitimate reasons for firing a watchdog - not that there are any in this case - the White House made up some crap about Walpin being too old and feeble to do the job. No doubt, “witnesses” will turn up in the press shortly to confirm Dr. Rahmbo’s diagnosis of mental incapacity.

“Will no one rid me of this meddlesome IG?” Obama might have asked. Presidents do things for political purposes all the time and firing one IG for being a squeaky wheel is really nothing much to get too worked up about.

But what if he has fired two IG’s - in two weeks - and potentially de-gonaded a third?

He was appointed with fanfare as the public watchdog over the government’s multi-billion dollar bailout of the nation’s financial system. But now Neil Barofsky is embroiled in a dispute with the Obama administration that delayed one recent inquiry and sparked questions about his ability to freely investigate.

The disagreement stems from a claim by the Treasury Department that Barofsky is not entirely independent of the agency he is assigned to examine ¿ a claim that has prompted a stern letter from a Republican senator warning that agency officials are encroaching on the integrity of an office created to protect taxpayers.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, sent the letter Wednesday to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner demanding information about a “dispute over certain Treasury documents” that he said were being “withheld” from Barofsky’s office on a “specious claim of attorney-client privilege.”

A White House spokesman declined to comment, referring questions to the Treasury Department. Treasury spokesman Andrew Williams said late Wednesday that the agency would read Grassley’s letter and respond to the senator before any public comment.

[...]

Separately this week, the International Trade Commission told its acting inspector general, who is not subject to White House authority, that her contract would not be renewed.

Grassley had become concerned about her independence because of a report earlier in the year that an agency employee forcibly took documents from the acting inspector general.

“It is difficult to understand why the ITC would not have taken action to ensure that the ITC inspector general had the information necessary to do the job,” Grassley wrote on Tuesday.

Less than three hours after the letter was e-mailed to the agency, the acting IG, Judith Gwynne, was told that her contract, which expires in early July, would not be renewed.

I know what you’re thinking, you Obamabots out there. “You got nuttin’. Where’s da proof? Nuttin’ happened here dat’s important. It’s a dis…a dist…it idn’t important, dat’s all.”

Perfect Chicago Way response. Better yet, why not include the defense of the year; “Well, Bush, he done it too!”

Got me there, pal. In 8 years, I’m sure Bush did indeed probably fire an IG or two. Can’t find any cites by googling but some intrepid lefty out there - my bet is on Steve Benen or perhaps Eric Boehlert - showing Bush doing the dirty deed will arise in the blogosphere by the end of the day.

And if he did, then what? Many on the left no doubt criticized Bush - quite rightly - at the time but are now defending Obama for doing the same thing? I guess because Bush wasn’t from Chicago, he just didn’t have the touch with these political executions. No style, no flair, no imagination in burying a hatchet in an IG’s head by smearing him as being senile.

It is the Barosfsky case that is the most intriguing. What is he on to? The response to Grassley’s letter was a polite way of saying “keep your nose out of our business.” What is that business? The FBI (and Barosfsky himself) believe there is massive fraud in the TARP program with possible kickbacks made to Congressmen. The IG’s office has already opened 20 investigations into such cases - probably about 19 more than the White House wanted. By playing a slow down game with the IG, Treasury is hoping their Democratic allies in Congress will rescue them by refusing to investigate. Grassley will try gamely but without the resources of a committee staff, he will be hard pressed to come up with anything.

Of course, this probably won’t deter Barosfsky. More likely, the White House is building a case to fire him as well - probably for “not following procedures” or some such transparent lie. With the press still on his side, why should they care what the reason is when the media and the Obamabots will accept anything they say at face value?

The Walpin story has already led to a criminal investigation being undertaken by the FBI for obstruction of justice in the Sacramento case. Proof enough that Chicago Way politics has migrated east and infected the highest levels of the American government.

Why couldn’t we have exported something else like Deep Dish Pizza or the Cubs?

By: Rick Moran at 9:34 am
14 Responses to “THE CHICAGO WAY TO DEAL WITH NOSY IG’S”
  1. 1
    jackson1234 Said:
    10:06 am 

    In the days of the first Mayor Daley, burly men would deliver turkeys each holiday to city employees. My aunt worked for the city, and since she had already bought her bird, the old woman told the nice men she didn’t need one. She was told in no uncertain terms to take the goddamned turkey. She did. Fast forward, and my aunt could have been a bank.

    Sometimes things are simple. Rick, you have nailed it. This is typical Chicago political thuggery. The above described event happened in the late Sixties, and apparently things haven’t changed much. I initially dismissed the IG story as trivial but as it has unfolded came to realize it is emblematic of what ails this Administration–its origins. The flirtations with lawlessness should be no shock.

    You also are right about Barosfsky. If Republicans somehow were to regain the House in the next cycle (unlikely, but increasingly possible), it will be when details of where the money from this massive spending orgy actually went.

  2. 2
    Postagoras Said:
    10:53 am 

    You might call me an Obamabot, but I think that this is well worth investigating. You might’ve pointed out that Claire McKaskill, a Democratic Senator, is also asking the White House questions about this.

    You might’ve also reported that the bipartisan board of the Corporation for National and Community Service unanimously requested a review of Walpin’s performance. If that’s a lie, it’s one that is easily exposed. If it’s true, then there may actually be a valid reason for Walpin’s dismissal? That is not just a “he said she said” argument.

    If, in the end, the White House wanted to get this guy canned and did the equivalent of pulling him over for a broken taillight, it’s definitely worth following up.

  3. 3
    Anon Said:
    11:09 am 

    Until the Republicans win back the House or Senate, nothing the Obama administration does will ever be investigated. The Chicago Way also means protecting your own, and democrats protect democrats. Period. These investigations will go nowhere. Obama and his media will play the ridicule card on Grassley, to great effect. If investigating potential wrong doing in the Obama administration or corruption in the democrat Congress is a priority for you, let it go. It simply isn’t going to happen. Obama is the Teflon president writ large. We’re just going to have to let his little presidency play out, unfettered by any checks and balances, and hope the voters decide they don’t like Obama’s kind of authoritarianism. But perhaps they will like it, in which case it will continue. Obama won’t be brought down — or even bruised — by any scandals with this Congress, so quit dreaming. It’s probably not good for the heart or the blood pressure.

  4. 4
    lionheart Said:
    12:04 pm 

    Postagoras,
    You have proven, by the simple fact that you believe it to be worth investigating, that you are not an Obamabot. You are not a hypocrite, and I applaude you. Sadly, on your side of the political spectrum, you are the exception (and I readily acknowledge that there is plenty of hypocrisy on both sides).

    But I can’t remember many incidents during the Bush administration where Bush did something that was excused by righties, but would have incurred their wrath if it had been a Democrat (Bush firing the AG’s would be a poor example- Republicans that attacked Clinton for doing it also attached Bush, as well as the converse). Republicans lead the charge in condemnation of sexual misconduct, whether the offender is dem or repub. Ethical violations such as the Abramoff scandal highly offended the republican constituancy, regardless of the fact that most of the offending interests were members of the Bush administration.

    I am not surprised by Obama’s actions here… as my father told me many years ago, “if you plant beans, you get beans”. My surprise is that the media, even as sympathetic as they are to Obama, are not outraged over this.

  5. 5
    Michael S. Said:
    2:03 pm 

    To quote Obama himself … ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet’.

    Which I was I wouldn’t be surprised that this is just the very beginning of such machinations. Check out:

    http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/2009/06/16/20090616burke0616.html

    Obama is set to replace the ONLY Native American US Attorney General with a partisan, party, political hack. Maybe his prospective appointee is highly qualified, but if this were Bush (or any other Republican) the entire Left would already be screaming racism and cronyism. The AGs are appointed at the President’s discretion and it certainly is his prerogative to replace 1, 8 or all 93 if he so wants. Let’s see what reaction we get from the Left as this progresses … will it be the Clinton-era, hey he fired all 93, but that’s OK he’s allowed to do that; or will it be the Bush-era, rant and rave, scream bloody murder, threaten lawsuits and impeachment, oh-my-f’ing god he replaced 8 AGs, he can’t do that I’m a constitutional professor and that’s unconstitutional.

    As far as the IGs go, I find it oh so ironic and hypocritical that it was then Senator Obama himself he crafted the current rules regarding the replacement of IGs to (supposedly) keep the process apolitical. If there is cause, then yes, let’s have an investigation, follow the 30-day process and do this right. Sorry, but a late-night threatening phone call telling an IG you have 1 hour to quit your job or else is nothing but Chicago thuggery as noted by Rick. Coming out days later when you’ve been caught with your hand in the cookie jar with some lame ass he’s senile story is nothing but a sorry attempt at CYA.

  6. 6
    jharp Said:
    3:29 pm 

    Another fake scandal from the right wing nuts.

    I’d honestly feel sorry for you pathetic souls if your group hadn’t done so much damage to the country.

    As it is I am enjoying watching you make fools of yourselves.

  7. 7
    aoibhneas Said:
    4:21 pm 

    gotta love the cognitive dissonance emanating from the Obama- can -never -do -any- wrong brown nosers like j harpo.

  8. 8
    Surabaya Stew Said:
    7:29 pm 

    Lets see here, a president, (drunk on power, perhaps) decides to fire people he (apparently) doesn’t like for some reason known only to him. Which of our 44 presidents does this NOT describe?

    Frankly, this just shows that Obama is quite human when it comes to handling power. (No doubt this won’t mean anything to those who call him “the one” or “the messiah”!) Let’s see if this event is a harbinger of something worse to come or if its just a blip or the radar…

  9. 9
    Scrapiron Said:
    7:34 pm 

    When did every democrat in the country become stupid, criminals, or both? No way it slipped in. They must have kept it under wraps for years. If one democrat had any ba**s people like Boxer, Peeloshi, Reid would be recalled immediately, or tried and executed, people’s choice.

  10. 10
    jharp Said:
    9:29 pm 

    aoibhneas Said:
    4:21 pm

    gotta love the cognitive dissonance emanating from the Obama- can -never -do -any- wrong brown nosers like j harpo.

    You, aoibhneas, are a typical wingnut jackass. Just who has insinuated that Obama “can never do any wrong”?

    Or made any comment alluding to such?

    Go jump in the lake.

  11. 11
    HyperIon Said:
    11:48 am 

    The pizza I’m happy to appropriate.
    But PLEASE keep the Cubs.

  12. 12
    Zuzu Said:
    3:00 pm 

    As an occasional lurker who’s enjoyed many of your well-reasoned posts in the past, I have to say I’m more than a little surprised at some of the inaccuracies in this post, and some of the important info it leaves out.

    First, it’s worth noting that two Bush administration US Attorneys reprimanded Walpin for his behavior during the investigation; Lawrence Brown,m the acting US Attorney who took office under the Bush administration, was so concerned about Walpin’s behavior that he submitted an official complaint to the IG oversight committee.

    The gist of that complaint was that Walpin impeded the investigation into Johnson’s activities by withholding information from the DOJ, providing selective information, and despite repeated instructions not to speak to the media, went right ahead and did so time after time for his own purposes.

    Remember also that the original, Bush-appointed US Attorney, McGregor Scott, made the determination not to pursue criminal charges but to enter into negotiations for a civil settlement in November of 2008, long before there was an Obama administration.

    By the way, Walpin had no authority to “bar” (actually suspend) Johnson from receiving federal funds, nor to “reinstate” Johnson’s “grant privileges.” The IG may make recommendations, but it was the corporation that made the decision to suspend Johnson and to lift that suspension. By the way, according to the Sacramento Bee, suspensions are very, very rare (according to the Sacto Bee, five suspensions in 15 years); the usual course in cases like this is repayment of funds and, rarely, a fine.

    http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/story/1751474.html

    Walpin did not agree with all the terms of the settlement, including the decision to lift the suspension. He said so in a “special report” written in April 2009, which the corporation forwarded to the appropriate congressional committee. It’s hard to see how he was being prevented from expressing his views.

    When the corporation board chose (within its authority) to delay comment on the “special report” until the ethics complaint was resolved, Walpin responded by stepping outside his authority and writing to the congressional committee. Not only did he complain about the board’s delay on commenting, he actually argued his case regarding the ethics complaint; the fact that the congressional committee had absolutely no jurisdiction over the complaint made that last part especially nutty. Let me emphasize again, Walpin had no authority to contact the committee directly.

    And by the way, the description of Walpin as “disoriented” and “confused” came from the bipartisan board of the corporation. For that and several other reasons respecting Walpin’s conduct, the board unanimously requested his removal. The Republican vice-chair of the board wholeheartedly endorsed Obama’s action. (By the way, I’ve never seen where the administration called the removal “an emergency” - possibly you can provide a link?)

  13. 13
    Zuzu Said:
    3:21 pm 

    Michael S:

    I think you misunderstand the selection process for US Attorneys. The fact is that it is typical for a new administration to replace most if not all of the US Attorneys appointed under the previous administration.

    For instance:

    “Both McNulty and Sampson acknowledged that the Bush administration, like the Clinton administration, brought in a new slate of U.S. attorneys within a few months of taking office.

    But historical data compiled by the Senate show the pattern going back to President Reagan.

    Reagan replaced 89 of the 93 U.S. attorneys in his first two years in office. President Clinton had 89 new U.S. attorneys in his first two years, and President Bush had 88 new U.S. attorneys in his first two years.

    In a similar vein, the Justice Department recently supplied Congress with a district-by-district listing of U.S. attorneys who served prior to the Bush administration.

    The list shows that in 1981, Reagan’s first year in office, 71 of 93 districts had new U.S. attorneys. In 1993, Clinton’s first year, 80 of 93 districts had new U.S. attorneys.”

    http://articles.latimes.com/2007/mar/23/nation/na-talking23

    The controversy over the 2006 firings arose because GWB was firing US Attorneys he had appointed himself, in the middle of their terms.

  14. 14
    Zuzu Said:
    3:32 pm 

    PS to Michael S:

    By the way, Obama did not really “craft” the rules for removing IGs. The Inspector General Act of 1978 specified that IGs may be removed by the President, and that the President must communicate his or her reasons for doing so to Congress.

    The Inspector General Reform Act of 2008 (which Obama co-sponsored) simply required that the communication be submitted 30 days before the removal. Nothing about investigations, “process,” etc. Only notice.

    By the way, giving an IG an opportunity to resign first is typical. For instance, under the GWB administration:

    ” …recently two inspectors general were quietly forced out of their jobs, causing a ripple of anxiety within the IG community.

    They were both given the bad news on Valentine’s Day. According to Luise S. Jordan, the IG at the Corporation for National and Community Service since 1994, she was summoned to a meeting with Ed Moy, an associate director in the presidential personnel office.

    ‘I was told I had done a good job. I was complimented on the achievements of my office, but the second paragraph, after all these compliments and making it clear this was not a dismissal for cause, was that the corporation had decided to get a new IG,’ Jordan recalled.

    The same day, Roberta L. Gross, the IG at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration since 1995, was given a similar message by NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe.

    ‘He said the White House was in the process of selecting somebody else’ for the IG job, Gross said. ‘He said it was time to move on.’ ”

    http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-350112.html

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