Grassley Demands More Answers About IG Walpin’s Firing; McCaskill Seems More Sated

Jun 17, 2009 6:51pm

This morning, White House attorney Norman Eisen met with the staff of Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, regarding the removal of Gerald Walpin as the Inspector General at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

But based on a letter Grassley wrote to White House counsel Greg Craig, the Iowan is not yet satisfied.

Grassley wrote that “Mr. Eisen refused to answer several direct questions posed to him about the representations made in his letter” explaining Walpin’s dismissal, which the White House released last night.

Among other charges, Eisen wrote last night that Walpin had appeared at a meeting of the CNCS where he "was confused, disoriented, unable to answer questions and exhibited other behavior that led the Board to question his capacity to serve." The Obama administration charged that Walpin “had engaged in other troubling and inappropriate conduct” and “had become unduly disruptive to agency operations, impairing his effectiveness…”

Grassley requested that Craig provide written answers to the following questions:

  • Did the CNCS Board communicate its concerns about Mr. Walpin to the White House in writing?
  • Specifically, which CNCS Board members came forward with concerns about Mr. Walpin’s ability to serve as the Inspector General?
  • Was the communication about the Board’s concerns on or about May 20, 2009 the first instance of any communications with White House personnel regarding the possibility of removing Mr. Walpin?
  • Which witnesses were interviewed in the course of Mr. Eisen’s review?
  • How many witnesses were interviewed?
  • Were any employees of the Office of Inspector General, who may have had more frequent contact with Mr. Walpin than the Board members, interviewed?
  • Was Mr. Walpin asked directly during Mr. Eisen’s review about the events of May 20, 2009?
  • Was Mr. Walpin asked for his response to the allegations submitted to the Integrity Committee by Acting U.S. Attorney Lawrence Brown?
  • What efforts were made during Mr. Eisen’s review to obtain both sides of the story or to afford the Office of Inspector General an opportunity to be heard?
  • In addition to the claim that Mr. Walpin was “confused” and “disoriented,” the letter also says he exhibited “other behavior” that led to questions about his capacity.  What other behavior was Mr. Eisen referencing?
  • If the initial and primary concern had to do with Mr. Walpin’s capacity to serve for potential health reasons, why was he only given one hour to decide whether to resign or be fired?
  • If Mr. Walpin’s telecommuting arrangements since the beginning of this year were a major concern, then why was Mr. Walpin not simply asked to stop telecommuting?

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who yesterday expressed concern that by not giving Congress 30 days notice before terminating Walpin the President was not abiding by a law she wrote and he cosponsored, seems more sated – though she still wants more information.

“Last night, in response to my request for adequate information on the firing of Inspector General for the Corporation for National and Community Service Gerald Walpin, the White House submitted a letter to Senators Lieberman and Collins that now puts the White House in full compliance with the notice requirement in the law,” McCaskill said in a statement released today. “The next step for Congress is to use the 30 days provided by the notice to seek further information and undertake any further review that might be necessary. The reasons given in the most recent White House letter are substantial and the decision to remove Walpin appears well founded.”

-jpt

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