It’s way too early to ask that famous question (paraphrased), “What did she know and when did she know it,” but Byron York reports on strong indications that the White House may be trying to hide the First Lady’s involvement of AmeriCorps Inspector General Gerald Walpin, who had uncovered corruption in one of her favorite charities:
Congressional investigators looking into the abrupt firing of AmeriCorps inspector general Gerald Walpin have discovered that the head of AmeriCorps met with a top aide to First Lady Michelle Obama the day before Walpin was removed.
According to Republican investigators, Alan Solomont, then the chairman of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which oversees AmeriCorps, had denied meeting with Jackie Norris, at the time the First Lady’s chief of staff. But recently-released White House visitor logs show that Solomont met with Norris on June 9 of this year (as well as on two earlier occasions). President Obama fired Walpin on June 10 after an intense dispute over Walpin’s aggressive investigation of misuse of AmeriCorps money by Obama political ally Kevin Johnson, the mayor of Sacramento, California.
After being presented with the visitor logs, investigators say, Solomont explained that he met with Norris to discuss Corporation business but did not discuss the Walpin matter. When pressed, Solomont said he might have made an offhand comment, or a mention in passing, about the Walpin affair, but that he and Norris did not have a discussion about it.
Solomont’s explanations have left both Rep. Darrell Issa, ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Sen. Charles Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, frustrated and vowing to continue their investigation of the Walpin matter. In a letter to Solomont, sent Friday, Issa wrote that he has “serious questions about the veracity of your…testimony.” In a statement Saturday, Grassley said he is “concerned about the accuracy and completeness of Mr. Solomont’s answers to questions.”
Solomont changed his story several times and was caught in a bald lie by committee investigators. The question is inevitable: if nothing wrong was done, why not admit he had discussed that troublesome IG with Mrs. Obama’s chief of staff? (And who soon thereafter was appointed to the board of AmeriCorps supervising corporation.) Unless, of course, the First Lady was to some degree involved in the illegal firing of Mr. Walpin? AmeriCorps is a favored charity of hers, and Mayor Johnson is a major Obama supporter and friend. A little Chicago-style hardball politics to make Walpin go away wouldn’t be alien to her, someone steeped in it from childhood.
Again, it’s too early to scream j’accuse, but the behavior of those involved is both curious and suggestive. But, with the Republicans in the minority and Democrats seemingly uninterested in pursuing IG-gate, we may have to wait for January, 2011, for the full story to come out.
RELATED: A friend reminds me of a potentially similar prior scandal, from when our Secretary of State was herself First lady. This time, however, there’s the added spice of the current First Lady possibly intervening to protect a supporter who misuses federal funds and sexually harasses interns. Sweet! I’d better order more popcorn…
LINKS: More at Hot Air.