Who railroaded the Amtrak inspector general?
by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate Copyright 2009
Watchdogs are an endangered species in the Age of Obama. The latest government ombudsman to get the muzzle: Amtrak inspector general Fred Weiderhold. The longtime veteran employee was abruptly “retired” last month –just as the government-subsidized rail service faces mounting complaints about its meddling in financial audits and probes.
Question the timing? Hell, yes.
On June 18, Weiderhold met with Amtrak officials to discuss the results of an independent report by the Washington, D.C. law firm, Willkie, Farr & Gallagher. The 94-page report has been made publicly available through the office of whistleblower advocate Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). It concluded that the “independence and effectiveness” of the Amtrak inspector general’s office “are being substantially impaired” by the agency’s Law Department. Amtrak bosses have effectively gagged their budgetary watchdogs from communicating with Congress without preapproval; required that all Amtrak documents be “pre-screened” (and in some cases redacted) before being turned over to the inspector general’s office; and taken control over the IG’s $5 million portion of federal stimulus dollars.
Moreover, the report revealed, Amtrak regularly retained outside law firms shielded from IG reach. In another case, Amtrak’s Law Department appeared to meddle in an inspector general investigation of an outside financial adviser suspected of inflating fees. The consultant ran to the Law Department when the IG demanded documents; the Law Department repudiated the IG’s instructions on complying with a subpoena.
These interventions (ongoing since 2007) have “systematically violated the letter and spirit of the Inspector General Act,” according to Sen. Grassley. IG staffers now fear retaliation – and with good reason. Their boss, Weiderhold, lost his job on the very day Amtrak received the Willkie, Farr & Gallagher report. It may be hot and humid in the rest of the Beltway, but every inspector general’s office is feeling an Arctic chill.
The transparent sacking comes just as Amtrak is awash in more than $1.3 billion of new federal stimulus funds. It comes on the heels of the unceremonious dismissal of Gerald Walpin, the AmeriCorps inspector general who dared to probe financial shenanigans by Obama cronies. (See “Obama’s AmeriCrooks and cronies scandal,” June 17, 2009.) And it comes on the heels of the stifling of veteran Environmental Protection Agency employee Alan Carlin, the researcher who dared to question the Obama administration’s conventional wisdom on global warming. (See “EPA’s game of global warming hide-and-seek,” June 26, 2009).
Question the timing? You betcha.
…Sen. Grassley has requested that Amtrak supply information on Weiderhold’s unexpected retirement, as well as internal and personal materials related to his departure and the report on Amtrak managers’ meddling. On the House side, Reps. Edolphus Towns (D.-N.Y.) and Darrell Issa (R.-Calif.) announced a probe Monday into Amtrak’s actions. They zeroed in on Amtrak’s choice of Lorraine Green to replace “retired” IG Weiderhold. (Click here for their letter to Amtrak Chairman of the Board of Directors Tom Carper.)
Who is Lorraine Green? She’s a former Amtrak human resources executive and faithful Democrat donor with no experience in the inspector general business. Her expertise? Managing “diversity initiatives” for the agency. Watchdog out. Lapdog in.
Can someone open a window? The fetid odor of Hope and Change is really starting to stink up the joint.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
"Transparency" My Foot!
The longer any institution exists the more corrupt it generally becomes. This article from Michele Malkin from back in 2009 proves the point. Power corrupts. When government officials won't let watchdogs speak, something is smelly. This article has new relevance now that another independent watchdog group has looked at the Obama record with regard to Amtrak.