Politics & Government

Why'd Obama fire investigator probing Sacramento mayor?

NEW YORK — Gerald Walpin doesn't look "disoriented."

Sitting in his seventh-floor Park Avenue home, he can remember when U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy summoned him to discuss prosecuting Roy M. Cohn, the attack dog for Joe McCarthy. He recalls Ethel Kennedy serving them tea or coffee as Kennedy's huge dog lumbered over to lap at the creamer.

He smiles with satisfaction relaying how he verbally pummeled Woody Allen's child psychologist on the stand to help Mia Farrow in her 1993 child custody case. "I did murder," he says, "figuratively, not literally."

What he can't explain is why President Barack Obama fired him last month as the inspector general pursuing a case against Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson for misuse of federal grant funds.

He said he has heard various explanations for his firing, the most recent that he appeared at a May 20 board meeting of the Corporation for National and Community Service in a "confused, disoriented" state.

He takes issue with them all and questions whether Johnson's ties to the Obama White House are at the heart of his removal.

"The bottom line of what I believe is, I was fired for doing my job," the 77-year-old former federal prosecutor said in the course of a three-hour interview with The Bee last week.

His detractors say he was booted for a series of clashes with officials at the corporation board, which oversees the federal government's AmeriCorps program. That, they say, and his stubborn refusal to accept the fact that his months-long investigation into Johnson and the St. HOPE organization he founded did not uncover criminal wrongdoing.

The investigation took place last year during Johnson's successful mayoral campaign, with Walpin moving in late September – just weeks before the election – to suspend Johnson and St. HOPE for misusing some of the $847,673 in federal grant money the organization received between 2004 and 2007.

Read the full story at sacbee.com