Monday, June 15, 2009

More on Obama's AmeriCorps Scandal

There's some stuff in here which is interesting.

The heart of the matter is a dispute that began last year over Walpin's recommendation that Johnson and St. HOPE be barred from receiving and using federal grant money. The process is known as "suspension and debarment," meaning that Johnson would be suspended from receiving federal funds under any current arrangement and might ultimately be barred from receiving any such funds in the future. "The whole purpose of suspension and debarment," Walpin says, "is to say that somebody who was involved in the misuse of government funds in the past should not be trusted with federal funds in the future."

That language is very significant. Johnson's St. HOPE program had unquestionably mis-used Federal funds. But Johnson had been elected Mayor of Sacramento, so it was possible that the city of Sacramento would be ineligible for any Federal funding so long as Johnson was its Mayor.

As you can imagine, that particular outcome was explosive.

However, Walpin was not alone in making the "suspension" call. was not Walpin's decision to make; there is another official at the Corporation whose job it is to make that call. In September 2008, after reviewing Walpin's evidence, the official decided to order a suspension, with the distinct possibility that it would lead to a permanent debarment.

And there is really not a "happy ending" here for the taxpayer, either.

Together, Brown and the top Corporation brass negotiated a deal. Johnson and St. HOPE would pay back about half of the $850,000 in AmeriCorps grant money it had received, and the suspension against Johnson would be lifted.

Walpin was very unhappy. First of all, he said it was a terrible deal for the U.S. government, because St. HOPE was essentially insolvent and would never pay the money back. Second, he felt lifting Johnson's suspension would dilute the effectiveness of future investigations; why should grant recipients worry about their misconduct if any sanctions can be so easily lifted? In the end, Johnson was not suspended, not debarred, and was probably not going to pay the vast majority of the money back.

And Walpin is out.


commoncents said...

Great post! Keep up the excellent work!

Dan said...

This could be a Nixon momonet for Obama, provided we had an objective media that actually does not make love to Obama and drool at the sight of Obama.