Fox & Friends aired on-screen text asserting as fact the claim -- disputed by the Obama administration -- that former inspector general Gerald Walpin was "fired for protecting taxpayers."
During the June 17 broadcast of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Fox News aired on-screen text asserting as fact the claim -- disputed by the Obama administration -- that Gerald Walpin, former inspector general at the Corporation for National and Community Service, was "fired for protecting taxpayers."
Since Walpin's suspension from his position as inspector general was announced on June 11, conservatives and Fox News hosts have claimed that he was fired for investigating an Obama ally. The White House has since provided a list of reasons for Walpin's June 11 termination, including but not limited to the Board of the Corporation's concerns over Walpin's behavior and conduct, as well as a complaint filed by acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California Lawrence G. Brown regarding Walpin's actions during his investigation into the misuse of AmeriCorps grants given to a nonprofit organization in Sacramento, California. Other chyrons that aired throughout the report asked whether Walpin was "dismissed for doing his job" and if there was a "cover-up at AmeriCorps."
Mr. Walpin was removed after a review was unanimously requested by the bi-partisan Board of the Corporation. The Board's action was precipitated by a May 20, 2009 Board meeting at which Mr. Walpin was confused, disoriented, unable to answer questions and exhibited other behavior that led the Board to question his capacity to serve. Upon our review, we also determined that the Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of California, a career prosecutor who was appointed to his post during the Bush Administration, had filed a complaint about Mr. Walpin's conduct with the oversight body for the Inspectors General, including for failing to disclose exculpatory evidence. We further learned that Mr. Walpin had been absent from the Corporation's headquarters, insisting upon working form his home in New York over the objections of the Corporation's Board; that he had exhibited a lack of candor in providing material information to decision makers; and he had engaged in other troubling and inappropriate conduct. Mr. Walpin had become unduly disruptive to agency operations, impairing his effectiveness and, for the reasons stated above, losing the confidence of the Board and the agency. It was for these reasons that Mr. Walpin was removed.
In an April 29 letter to the chair of the Integrity Committee of the Counsel of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, which the administration cited in explaining Walpin's termination, Brown "express[ed] ... concerns about the conduct of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) Inspector General, Gerald Walpin, and his staff in the handling of United States v. St. HOPE Academy, Kevin Johnson & Dana Gonzalez," a case which "resulted from the alleged misuse of AmeriCorps grant funds by St. HOPE Academy" and its "then Chief Executive Officer Kevin Johnson, and Executive Director Dana Gonzalez." Brown noted that Johnson "is a former NBA basketball player and was a Sacramento mayoral candidate, subsequently elected Mayor, when this matter first came to light during fall 2008." In his letter, Brown wrote:
In our experience, the role of an Inspector General is to conduct an unbiased investigation, and then forward that investigation to my Office for a determination as to whether the facts warrant a criminal prosecution, civil suit or declination. Similarly, I understand that after conducting such an unbiased investigation, the Inspector General is not intended to act as an advocate for suspension or debarment. However, in this case Mr. Walpin viewed his role very differently. He sought to act as the investigator, advocate, judge, jury and town crier.
Brown further alleged that Walpin and his staff "did not include" or "disclose" relevant information regarding the case to Brown's office; that Walpin repeatedly discussed the case in the press after being advised "under no circumstance was he to communicate with the media about a matter under investigation"; and that Walpin's "actions were hindering our investigation and handling of this matter." Brown concluded: "Although I recognize that a strong IG is necessary to ensure that allegations of wrongdoing are investigated, I believe that Mr. Walpin overstepped his authority by electing to provide my Office with selective information and withholding other potentially significant information at the expense of determining the truth. I believe that rather than ensuring protection of a respected federal agency, he tarnished its reputation."
The following on-screen text appeared during the June 17 Fox & Friends report: