Did Sacramento mayor's ties to Obama get investigator fired?

The Sacramento BeeJune 16, 2009 

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is a hot topic in the D.C. Beltway blogosphere, with some charging that his perceived ties to the president played a role in the dismissal of a federal investigator.

Gerald Walpin, who as inspector general for the Corporation for National and Community Service investigated misuse of federal aid by Johnson and his nonprofit St. HOPE, was fired last week.

In a letter to Congress, President Barack Obama said he'd lost confidence in Walpin. White House press officials wouldn't elaborate, saying it was a personnel issue.

That hasn't stopped Washington, D.C., media outlets and political blogs from jumping in and theorizing that Johnson helped pull the strings in the firing.

Under the headline "Walpin-gate," the conservative Washington Times charged in an editorial Monday that "political entanglements" were involved in Walpin's removal. Nearly every blog that tackled the subject has pointed out Johnson's celebrity status as a former NBA point guard, and many described him as a friend of the president's.

It's a story that has been simmering for weeks.

Walpin, a conservative attorney, blasted Johnson's settlement with federal prosecutors in April, which called for the mayor, his St. HOPE organization and its former executive director, Dana Gonzalez, to repay more than $400,000 in misused grants. Walpin recently asked Congress to review the case.

Federal prosecutors fired back at Walpin, criticizing his handling of the investigation.

To read the complete article, visit www.sacbee.com.

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