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Obama's AmeriCrooks and cronies scandal Updated

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By Michelle Malkin  •  June 17, 2009 05:02 AM

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Photoshop credit: Leo Alberti

My syndicated column today digs further into Obama’s AmeriCorruption. We now have the White House in full Chicago thug mode — maligning fired AmeriCorps inspector general Gerald Walpin as “confused” and “disoriented.” Yep, that was the response after Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill weighed in and pronounced herself unsatistifed with Obama’s “loss of confidence” rationale.

Implying that Walpin has lost his marbles is desperate and lame. Walpin has been consistenly lucid and laser-sharp in every TV and radio interview I’ve seen or heard — including on the Laura Ingraham show yesterday, where he noted that evidence in the Sacramento mayor/NBA star/Obama crony Kevin Johnson case was destroyed.

Far from being “confused” and “disoriented,” Walpin is clear as day. Anyone who actually reads through his audits and investigative reports knows that. You can, should, and must read Walpin’s reports both on CUNY funding abuse and on the Johnson scandal here.

I also continue to hammer at the Michelle Obama angle. Her vested interest in propping up the government-subsidized volunteer industry stretches back to her days leading the Chicago non-profit Public Allies (scroll down to the end of my column for what the AmeriCorps’ inspector general found while investigating money troubles at Mrs. O’s old friends at Public Allies). And we can’t forget her days working to promote national service — and to set up cozy public chat forums with her husband and Weather Underground Bill Ayers — while at the University of Chicago.

Last week, I said this reeked of the Clintons’ Travelgate. It’s much, much worse.

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Obama’s AmeriCrooks and cronies scandal
by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2009

President Obama promised he would end “Washington games.” But his abrupt firing of the AmeriCorps inspector general is more of the same. The brewing scandal smells like the Beltway cronyism of the Bush years. And the apparent meddling of First Lady Michelle Obama in the matter smacks of the corruption of the Clinton years.

If Obama keeps up with this “change,” we’ll be back to the Watergate era by Christmas.

News of AmeriCorps watchdog Gerald Walpin’s unceremonious dismissal first broke last week in Youth Today, an independent national publication focused on the volunteerism sector. Walpin was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2007 and has served well, honorably, and effectively. Too effectively. His removal came a week after he “questioned the eligibility of the largest and most expensive AmeriCorps program, and while the IG was contesting the ‘propriety’ of a settlement made with a mayor for alleged misuse of AmeriCorps funds,” according to Youth Today.

The first taxpayer-subsidized program is the Teaching Fellows Program, run by the Research Foundation of the City University of New York. Walpin’s audit (which can be found online at www.cncsig.gov/AuditReports.html) uncovered a multitude of grant violations, including criminal background check lapses and “pervasive problems of eligibility, timekeeping, and documentation.”

Walpin office questioned duplicative educational awards of more than $16 million and costs worth nearly $775,000. CUNY refused to return excess funds that it had drawn down, failed to revise procedures to prevent such grant abuse, and refused to provide proof documenting that its AmeriCorps participants actually existed. Walpin advised AmeriCorps’ parent organization, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), to cut off any new funding and reexamine past government funding totaling upwards of $75 million.

Walpin’s recommendations have been ignored by CNCS, now chaired by Democrat mega-fundraiser Alan Solomont. The Obama watchdogs are snoozing. Expect the same kind of lackadaisical approach toward policing the $6 billion AmeriCorps expansion/government national service programs signed into law by President Obama in April.

The second program Walpin challenged is the non-profit St. HOPE Academy, run by Obama supporter Kevin Johnson, the Democrat mayor of Sacramento and a former NBA basketball star. In a special May 2009 report, Walpin’s office blew the whistle on a highly politicized U.S. Attorney’s Office settlement with Johnson and his deputy, Dana Gonzalez. The pair exploited nearly $900,000 in AmeriCorps funding for personal and political gain. Based on Walpin’s investigation last year, CNCS had suspended their access to federal funds after determining that they were:

*Using AmeriCorps members to “recruit students for St. HOPE Academy;”

*Using AmeriCorps members for political activities in connection with the “Sacramento Board of Education election;”

*Assigning grant-funded AmeriCorps members to perform services “personally benefiting . . . Johnson,” such as “driving [him] to personal appointments, washing [his] car, and running personal errands;” and

*Improperly using AmeriCorps “members to perform non-AmeriCorps clerical and other services” that “were outside the scope of the grant and therefore were impermissible” for “the benefit of St. HOPE.”

But in the wake of Johnson’s mayoral victory and President Obama’s election in November, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento rushed to settle with the new mayor so he could avail himself of federal stimulus funds and other government money. It was, Walpin said in his special report last month, “akin to deciding that, while one should not put a fox in a small chicken coop, it is fine to do so in a large chicken coop! The settlement…leaves the unmistakable impression that relief from a suspension can be bought.”

Shortly after, the White House announced that it had “lost confidence” in Walpin. With Walpin’s removal, the top management positions at AmeriCorps’ parent organization are now all open. The decks are clear to install lackeys who will protect the government volunteerism industry and its Democrat cronies. And a chilling effect has undoubtedly taken hold in every other inspector general’s office in Washington.

GOP Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa is pressing Obama for more details. Tough questions need to be asked of First Lady Michelle Obama, who has “taken the lead” in selecting AmeriCorps’ managers, according to Youth Today. Her former chief of staff, Jackie Norris, will serve as a “senior adviser” to CNCS beginning next week. What role did they play in Walpin’s sacking? And why?

Mrs. Obama’s interest is more than passing. She ran the AmeriCorps-funded non-profit Public Allies in Chicago from 1993-1996 and served on its national board until 2001. Like so many of the AmeriCorps recipients investigated by the inspector general’s office over the years, Public Allies was found to have violated basic eligibility and compliance rules. A January 2007 audit reported that the group lacked internal controls verifying that recipients who received education grants and living allowances were legal citizens or permanent residents as required by law.

Transparency. Accountability. Fiscal responsibility. In Obama World, these are proving to be nothing more than words. Just words.

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More from Ed Morrissey on the FBI probe into obstruction of justice (note above that Walpin mentioned this to Laura Ingraham yesterday) — plus Walpin responds to the White House smear.

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