Administration accused of using federal inspector generals to hide political scandals

inspector general
(The Wall Street Journal)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Obama administration continues to come under fire for playing politics with inspector generals employed by various federal departments, and for using the post to squelch scandals that would reflect poorly on the president.

American Thinker has highlighted numerous recent examples of the Obama administration’s “political pressures” on inspector generals in several government departments. The news site and others have also criticized the president for failing to permanently appoint IGs to nine major departments.

Several recent political scandals are tied directly to the issue with IGs, who have reportedly played a role in keeping important information under wraps, according to media reports.

American Thinker cites a Washington Examiner report about a Senate subcommittee investigation into Department of Human Services IG Charles Edwards, which showed a deliberate effort to whitewash the scandal involving Secret Service agents hiring prostitutes while in Cartagena, Columbia.

“The subcommittee uncovered numerous allegations against Edwards – some that pertained to his Secret Service probe and many others that were completely unrelated,” the Washington Examiner reported. “The panel found strong evidence that Edwards was altering and delaying investigations and reports to please political appointees at DHS who were in a position to influence President Obama to permanently elevate him to the top post.

“According to the Senate report, Edwards put three of his staff on administrative leave after they balked when he directed them to delete parts of the office’s investigation into Secret Service misconduct in Columbia – evidence that would have cast the Secret Service in a more negative light, as well as implicate a White House staffer.”

Despite the Senate investigation and evidence of a cover-up, Edwards remained the DHS IG until he was transferred in December to another agency, American Thinker reports.

There is also evidence that the Obama administration is using the IG post to minimize embarrassment and to leverage the president’s political muscle to get what he wants.

A joint House-Senate investigation into the June 2009 firing of Gerald Walpin, the Republican IG of the Corporation for National and Community Service, concluded that his termination “undermines the Inspectors General Act.” Walpin appealed his firing, but a federal appeals court upheld his termination.

“The Obama administration said it fired Mr. Walpin from the government agency that oversees service groups such as AmeriCorps because it lost confidence in him,” The Washington Times reports. “Mr. Walpin disputed that, saying the administration fired him because he had concluded that Sacramento, California Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA all-star and Obama supporter, had misused federal AmeriCorps grants when he ran the nonprofit St. Hope Academy between 2004 and 2007.”

Other examples of the Obama administration’s penchant for attacking those who step out of line include an unsuccessful attempt to strip Neil Barofsky, special inspector general for TARP, of his authority; harsh criticism leveled against IG Russell George, who exposed the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups; and similar criticisms and political pressures applied to John Sopko “for his forthright reports on Afghan debacles,” according to media reports.

It all leads to a simple conclusion: “After more than 5 years, it’s clear that the president prefers a certain kind of IG – pliant, and understanding of the administration’s political necessities,” American Thinker opined.

“You wonder what other investigations have been squelched or otherwise hampered by politicizing inspector generals.”

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