Report on Amtrak / Inspector General case
From The Other McCain:
UPDATE: Press release from Grassley’s office:
Senator Chuck Grassley has asked Amtrak about the circumstances of the Inspector General’s unexpected retirement seven days ago and invited Amtrak to provide information about the interference by Amtrak in the work of the Inspector General described in a report prepared at the request of the retired watchdog.
Grassley said the report indicates that Amtrak’s policies and procedures have systematically violated the letter and spirit of the Inspector General Act.
“As I continue my investigation into whether the independence of the Inspector General was undermined by Amtrak officials, I want to make sure I have any and all information Amtrak wants to provide,” Grassley said. “The allegations are serious, including third parties being told to first send documents under subpoena by the Inspector General to Amtrak for review, and the Inspector General being chastised for communicating directly with congressional appropriations and authorizing committees . . .”
Read the whole thing. I had been warned to expect something like this, so I just kept refreshing the press release page at Grassley’s site until it was posted. Well, I’ve got work to do.
UPDATE 8:45 ET: The first news story about this report, from . . . well, me, at The American Spectator:
Officials of Amtrak have “systematically violated the letter and spirit of the Inspector General Act,” Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) charged Thursday, making public a 94-page legal report prepared at the request of the Amtrak inspector general who resigned suddenly a week ago.
Fred Wiederhold, a veteran IG, retired without notice or explanation June 18 after a meeting with Amtrak officials where he presented the report by the law firm of Willkie, Farr & Gallagher. “The allegations are serious, including third parties being told to first send documents under subpoena by the Inspector General to Amtrak for review, and the Inspector General being chastised for communicating directly with congressional appropriations and authorizing committees,” Grassley said in a statement.
Grassley’s accusation of illegal actions by Amtrak, including failure to comply properly with subpoenas, is the most serious to date in an investigation that has expanded quickly since the IG for the AmeriCorps program was given an ultimatum two weeks ago to resign or be fired.
In a letter to Amtrak Chairman Thomas Carper, Grassley said the legal report “suggests a long-term and unrelenting interference with the activities and operation” of the IG’s office. Grassley said his staff believes that members of the Amtrak IG office “be fearful of retaliation if they were to discuss the matters set forth in this letter with anyone, including Congress.” . . .Read the whole thing. Meanwhile, Michael Jackson is dead. He was a few months older than me, much richer, and never scored an exclusive news story in his life. His kickspin was better than mine, however.
UPDATE 10:15 p.m.: A little more news at the Green Room
Investigators for Sen. Joe Lieberman (Ind.-Conn.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) are now becoming involved with the IG-Gate probe.
Previously, Lieberman and Collins had seemed willing to accept Obama administration officials’ version of the firing of AmeriCorps IG Gerald Walpin without even hearing Walpin’s side of the story. Now, as a clear pattern of pressure against IGs has developed, the multiple investigations have gotten the attention of Lieberman and Collins, the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. This is the chief oversight committee with jurisdiction to hold hearings and subpoena materials in the IG probe.
Some Republicans, however, have been disappointed by Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Mike Enzi of Wyoming. Both GOP senators have expressed interest in the IG investigations, but neither has sought to interview Walpin or ordered their own staffers to coordinate with Grassley’s investigators, who have already been on the case for two weeks.Astute blog readers will recognize that I’ve linked the contact pages for those senators, and for a good reason. If you want to see Congress hold hearings on IG-Gate, you need to get in touch with your own members of Congress and tell them so. “Sources close to the investigation” say that it is up to citizens to push Congress to take action. It doesn’t matter whether your senators or representatives; preserving the independence of IGs ought to be a bipartisan concern.
UPDATE 10:23 p.m.: Welcome Hot Air readers. And thanks to Bob Belvedere for his IG-Gate compilation at WWU-AM.
UPDATE 11:12 p.m.: No Watchdogs Allowed
UPDATE 11:22 p.m.: I use Google News to search for online information about these stories, and somehow had previously missed this story today from Youth Today about CNCS acting NCNS head Nicole Goren’s explanation of the Walpin firing. You can check that out, but it still doesn’t address the question of fundamental fairness. In the three weeks between the May 20 board meeting and June 10, when Walpin was told to quit or be fired, neither CNCS nor anyone in the Obama administration made any effort to get Walpin’s side of the dispute.