White House Plays Hardball; Says Fired IG Walpin Was “Confused, Disoriented” Engaged in “Inappropriate Conduct”

By Lee Speigel

Jun 16, 2009 10:58pm

In a letter to Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, the Chairman and Ranking Republicans on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Norm Eisen, the Special Counsel to the President, outlined a number of reasons why President Obama fired Inspector General Gerald Walpin.

"Mr. Walpin was removed after a review was unanimously requested by the bi-partisan Board of the Corporation," Eisen writes in the letter, a copy of which was sent to Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., a key Obama ally who today expressed concern that President Obama did not abide by a law she wrote — and he supported as a senator — requiring 30 day notice to Congress before an Inspector General could be terminated.

In the letter, Eisen paints a less-than-flattering picture of Walpin, whose controversial tenure as Inspector General of the Corporation for National and Community Service ended last week with President Obama taking the extraordinary measure of firing him.

Eisen charged that at a May 20, 2009 board meeting Walpin "was confused, disoriented, unable to answer questions and exhibited other behavior that led the Board to question his capacity to serve."

Eisen writes that the President decided to take the step after learning that the Acting US Attorney for the Eastern District of California, Lawrence Brown, "a career prosecutor who was appointed to his post during the Bush Administrator, had filed a complaint about Mr. Walpin's conduct with the oversight body  for Inspectors General, including for failing to disclose exculpatory evidence."

The Obama administration "further learned that Mr. Walpin had been absent from the Corporation's headquarters, insisting upon working from his home in New York over the objections of the Corporation's Board; that he had exhibited a lack of candor in providing material information to decision makers; and that he had engaged in other troubling and inappropriate conduct. Mr. Walpin had become unduly disruptive to agency operations, impairing his effectiveness and, for the reasons stated above, losing the confidence of the Board."

Eisen said he looks forward to "discussing the statutory requirements more fully" with the senators.

- jpt

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