Did AmeriCorps official lie about possible First Lady link to IG firing?

by Byron York
Chief Political Correspondent
Washington Examiner
December 14, 2009

Congressional investigators looking into the abrupt firing of AmeriCorps inspector general Gerald Walpin have discovered that the head of AmeriCorps met with a top aide to First Lady Michelle Obama the day before Walpin was removed.

According to Republican investigators, Alan Solomont, then the chairman of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which oversees AmeriCorps, had denied meeting with Jackie Norris, at the time the First Lady’s chief of staff. But recently-released White House visitor logs show that Solomont met with Norris on June 9 of this year (as well as on two earlier occasions). President Obama fired Walpin on June 10 after an intense dispute over Walpin’s aggressive investigation of misuse of AmeriCorps money by Obama political ally Kevin Johnson, the mayor of Sacramento, California.

After being presented with the visitor logs, investigators say, Solomont explained that he met with Norris to discuss Corporation business but did not discuss the Walpin matter. When pressed, Solomont said he might have made an offhand comment, or a mention in passing, about the Walpin affair, but that he and Norris did not have a discussion about it.

Solomont’s explanations have left both Rep. Darrell Issa, ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Sen. Charles Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, frustrated and vowing to continue their investigation of the Walpin matter. In a letter to Solomont, sent Friday, Issa wrote that he has “serious questions about the veracity of your…testimony.” In a statement Saturday, Grassley said he is “concerned about the accuracy and completeness of Mr. Solomont’s answers to questions.”…

…GOP investigators were particularly curious about Norris because First Lady Michelle Obama had taken a special interest in national service, and notes from a March conference call of the Corporation’s board said that Mrs. Obama “will be playing a central role in the national service agenda.” Investigators also discovered that the First Lady had been “tasked with appointing the Corporation’s next Chief Executive Officer,” according to a report released last month by Grassley and Issa. In addition, on June 4, the White House announced that Norris was leaving the First Lady’s office to become a senior adviser at the Corporation. Taken together, those events prompted investigators to ask whether the First Lady’s office played any role in the Walpin affair…

The article continues at the Washington Examiner.

Comments are closed.