The White House's decision to fire AmeriCorps inspector general Gerald Walpin came amid politically-charged tensions inside the Corporation for National and Community Service, the organization that runs AmeriCorps. Top executives at the Corporation, Walpin explained in an hour-long interview Saturday, were unhappy with his investigation into the misuse of AmeriCorps funds by Kevin Johnson, the former NBA star who is now mayor of Sacramento, California and a prominent supporter of President Obama. Walpin's investigation also sparked conflict with the acting U.S. attorney in Sacramento amid fears that the probe -- which could have resulted in Johnson being barred from ever winning another federal grant -- might stand in the way of the city receiving its part of billions of dollars in federal stimulus money. After weeks of standoff, Walpin, whose position as inspector general is supposed to be protected from influence by political appointees and the White House, was fired.
Walpin learned his fate Wednesday night. He was driving to an event in upstate New York when he received a call from Norman Eisen, the Special Counsel to the President for Ethics and Government Reform. "He said, 'Mr. Walpin, the president wants me to tell you that he really appreciates your service, but it's time to move on,'" Walpin recalls. "Eisen said, 'You can either resign, or I'll tell you that we'll have to terminate you.'"
In the course of his investigation, Walpin found Johnson and St. HOPE had failed to use the federal money they received for the purposes specified in the grant and had also used federally-funded AmeriCorps staff for, among other things, "driving [Johnson] to personal appointments, washing his car, and running personal errands." Walpin came to the conclusion that Johnson and St. HOPE should be subject to suspension and debarment
Here are Johnson's salaries as a pro basketball player for the Phoenix Suns:
You gotta love it. Johnson made almost $32 million during a 12 year career in the NBA, but we the taxpayers have to pay for his chaffeurs, car washers, and errand runners.