Again violating it’s promise and guarantee of transparency, the White House has moved to block the testimony of former top aide to First Lady Michelle Obama, Jackie Norris.
Republican efforts to interview a former top aide to Michelle Obama in the controversial case of a fired inspector general have been stymied by the White House, the the top Republican looking into the case said Tuesday
The White House counsel’s office has blocked Republican investigators from interviewing Jackie Norris, former chief of staff for the first lady, about President Obama’s dismissal of former AmeriCorps Inspector General Gerald Walpin.
Republican investigators from the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform have wanted to question Norris — who is now senior adviser to the Corporation for National and Community Service, the organization that oversees AmeriCorps — since they discovered earlier this month that she met with Alan Solomont, chairman of CNCS on June 9, the day before Walpin was fired.
Solomont was heavily involved in the Walpin firing, according to the Washington Examiner, which first reported the response by the first lady’s office.
The White House move was revealed in a letter sent Monday to Norris by Rep. Darrell Issa, the ranking Republican on the oversight panel.
“Our request to meet with you was denied by (Corporation for National and Community Service) general counsel Frank Trinity,” Issa wrote to Norris. “Mr. Trinity told my staff that the White House counsel’s office has advised him that they were not permitting the corporation to make you available for an interview.
“The White House has averred that you had no role whatsoever in the president’s decision to prevent your testimony. If the information provided by White House officials is true, it follows that no colorable claim of executive privilege should impede your cooperation with the committee,” he continued.
Issa said in a statement Tuesday that he does not see a difference between this case and Democrats’ pressing the political nature of the firings of nine U.S. attorneys under President George W. Bush.
Norris is currently a senior advisor at the organization that oversees AmeriCorps, the country’s national services program which annually receives millions of federal dollars to conquer everything from illiteracy to affordable housing and the environment. During his tenure as inspector general, Walpin exposed a multi million-dollar fraud scheme in AmeriCorps’ most expensive program, a teaching fellow project at the City University of New York, and he busted a Sacramento charity, operated by a powerful Obama ally who happens to be the city’s mayor, for misusing nearly $1 million in federal grants.
The mayor (Obama pal Kevin Johnson) illegally used the money to pay volunteers for political activities, run personal errands and even wash his car. Johnson, a former professional basketball player, acknowledged that there “may have been administrative errors” and reached a settlement with federal prosecutors to repay about half of the money. This certainly indicates that Walpin did his job of rooting out government fraud, waste and abuse quite efficiently.
It also explains why Obama has yet to come up with a valid reason—other than retaliation for busting his corrupt friend—to fire Walpin. The president violated a law that safeguards the independence of government agency watchdogs and the Democratic senator (Missouri’s Claire McCaskill) who authored the measure blasted the commander-in-chief for removing an inspector general who exposed widespread waste in taxpayer-financed community service groups.