On his most recent Hardball program, MSNBCâ€™s Chris Matthews explored a long-forgotten controversy thatÂ evidently continues to haunt him â€“ the role thatÂ Republican strategistÂ Karl Rove may have played â€œin the firing of those federal prosecutors [by President Bush] back in 2006.â€ â€œSome emails,â€ Matthews reported breathlessly, â€œshed light on his role in the firings.â€ Joining Matthews to discuss the matter were Michael Isikoff of Newsweek and David Corn of the pro-socialist publication Mother Jones.
At issue was the Bush administrationâ€™s 2006 replacement of eight federal attorneys who were, by definition, the chief federal law-enforcement officials in their districts. They were also, by definition,Â political appointees whom the President was under absolutely no obligation to retain; such appointeesÂ serve at the pleasure of the President and are subject to dismissal by the latter at any time.
Nor did Matthews address a most significantÂ story from two months ago, when theÂ President whose rhetorical style has been know to giveÂ Matthews “a thrill up his leg” suddenly dismissed Gerald Walpin, Inspector General (IG) of the Corporation for National and Community Service,Â for no goodÂ cause thatÂ he (the President) could coherently identify. SaidÂ a WashingtonÂ Times report at the time:
Without appropriate documentation or good reason, President Obama has fired a federal investigator who was on the case against a political ally of the president’s. Mr. Obama’s move has the stench of scandal.
On June 11, Mr. Obama fired Gerald Walpin, inspector general for the Corporation for National and Community Service. He offered no public reason for doing so other than that he “no longer” had “the fullest confidence” in Mr. Walpinâ€¦. Losing one’s “fullest confidence” hardly qualifies as a justifiable reason. The Senate report language attached to the act explains: “The requirement to notify the Congress in advance of the reasons for the removal should serve to ensure that Inspectors General are not removed for political reasons.”
Yet, as Associated Press noted, “Obama’s move follows an investigation by IG Gerald Walpin finding misuse of federal grants by a nonprofit education group led by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who is an Obama supporter and former NBA basketball star.” Further, “The IG found that Johnson … had used Americorps grants to pay volunteers to engage in school-board political activities, run personal errands for Johnson and even wash his car.”
Sacramento U.S. Attorney Larry Brown criticized Mr. Walpin for publicly announcing the investigation rather than more quietly cooperating with federal prosecutors. Clearly, though, there was merit to Mr. Walpin’s charges: Mr. Brown’s office reached a settlement ordering the nonprofit organization to repay half of the $850,000 in grant money it received — with $72,836.50 of that repayment coming from Mr. Johnson’s own pocket.