AmeriCorps Inspector General Shredded White House Documents at Request of Agency’s Spokeswoman

By Fred Lucas
November 12, 2009

The acting inspector general of AmeriCorps said he shredded White House documents at the request of an agency press spokeswoman that pertained to the controversial firing of the previous inspector general, who was ousted after investigating a political ally of President Obama.

The e-mail message from agency spokeswoman Ranit Schmelzer seemed urgent, as she wrote: “WH documents were sent in error. Can you please destroy them? And can you confirm you receive this e-mail?” Acting IG Kenneth Bach responded 13 minutes later writing, “Confirmed, documents were shredded.”

The email exchanges between Bach and Schmelzer, as well as other documents pertaining to the firing of the AmeriCorps inspector general, were obtained by through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

The documents referenced in the Bach-Schmelzer email exchange included a draft of a letter to be signed by President Obama that would be sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to inform her that Obama was firing Gerald Walpin as inspector general for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which runs AmeriCorps, and also a set of talking points to be used in explaining to the media why Walpin was being fired.

An inspector general is the designated watchdog for a public agency who is supposed to have autonomy from the agency’s officials in guarding against waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars.

When interviewed by, Walpin said he thought a request from an agency spokeswoman to an inspector general to destroy documents and an inspector general’s compliance with such a request to be “shocking.”

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