Archive for ‘Fred Wiederhold’

July 22, 2009

The Mother of All IG-Gate Updates

On the Internet, stuff gets scattered around so that you never see it all in one place. Today’s IG-Gate Update at the Hot Air Green Room pushes the story forward:

Behind closed doors on Capitol Hill last week, I asked a Republican source about the investigative efforts of Democratic staffers for the House Oversight Committee.
“Honestly?” the source said. “They’re useless.”
More than three weeks have passed since Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) joined the committee’s ranking Republican, California Rep. Darrell Issa, to launch an investigation into the case of former Amtrak inspector general Fred Wiederhold Jr. . . .
Despite the “grave concerns” expressed by Towns and Issa three weeks ago, however, Republican sources on Capitol Hill have complained that Democratic staffers on the Oversight Committee have not shown much zeal for the investigation. Sources say Democratic staffers have skipped meetings and conference calls to which they were invited by GOP investigators, who are attempting to work with Grassley’s staff in order to prevent unnecessary duplication of efforts. Sharing documents and scheduling interviews with witnesses, allowing Republican and Democratic investigators from both chambers an opportunity to question these witnesses, is a demanding logistical task. And GOP staffers complain that this task seems to be lacking in terms of bipartisanship. . . .

Read the whole thing, because toward the end, I make this point:

This is a huge story, involving multiple investigations, and 1,200 words here don’t even begin to summarize the 1,400 words there [at The American Spectator on Monday], to say nothing of the 400 words I did last night about the SIGTARP report.

Like I said, read the whole thing, and follow the links, because this is one big sprawling mother of a story. The best I can do in any single chunk is to bring in new facts, new quotes, new angles, and link to as much other the other stuff as possible. (That Green Room article includes more than 25 links, including the link to the Spectator article, which has more than a dozen links.)

If you’ll go to Bob Belvedere’s WWU-AM and scroll down, he’s got a huge IG-Gate link dump with my reporting, Byron York’s reporting, columns by Michelle Malkin, reports from ABC News, the Washington Post, etc. There’s a lot of stuff out there, in other words, and you need to see it all if you want to try to understand this thing.

“Try,” I say, because I don’t even claim to understand it all yet. My sources talk about things and sometimes I can tell they’re trying to drop me a hint of something they want me to write about, e.g., “Who Is Eleanor Acheson?” It’s important to ask the right questions, as one of my sources said.

On the one hand, there is the temptation to focus on one aspect of the story — the Washington Times keeps calling this “WalpinGate,” which is too narrow — but on the other hand, you’ve got to be careful not to waste time playing “connect-the-dots” with things that might not really be connected. Yes, there’s a pattern, but that doesn’t mean there’s a conspiracy.

Still, as I predicted on June 18 — right after Michelle Malkin’s first column on the Walpin case slapped me upside the head — this story isn’t going away anytime soon. June 18 was the same day IG Fred Wiederhold delivered his report to the Amtrak board and suddenly retired, and also the same day Chuck Grassley made public his letter about the International Trade Commission IG, Judith Gwynne.

So barely a week after Walpin got his June 10 quit-or-be-fired ultimatum from White House lawyer Norm Eisen, there were two other IG cases. Then we have the case of the watchdog who’s still hanging tough, SIGTARP, Neil Barofsky. The bailout watchdog showed yesterday how much trouble he can cause, and it’s therefore no mystery why Treasury’s giving Barofsky a hard time. (My money’s still on Barofsky as the IG most likely to get a Cabinet secretary sent to federal prison.)

IG-Gate is a big mother, you see. Because I’m on deadline for a print magazine article, there’s no time for me to do a complete aggregation now, but here are the major IG-Gate articles I’ve done so far:

Each of those items is chock-full of links to other items. As you can see, just six weeks into this story, there’s a lot of stuff out there — and, no doubt, a lot more to come. Just keep hitting the tip jar.

One of these days, I plan to hit the American Spectator with the mother of all expense reimbursement requests — “$800 for fireworks?” “Promotional activity. Perfectly legitimate, Al.” — but in the meantime, Daddy needs a new pair of shoes.

UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers! Just in case you’re wondering why Professor Reynolds loves this story so much, I once again remind you to read the whole thing. The professor’s drooling at the prospect of The Mother of All Chris Dodd Updates.

Meanwhile, be sure to check out the IG-Gate Rule 3 memo, which offers more tasty watchdog morsels.

June 23, 2009

IG-Gate: Asking the right questions

The unexplained resignation of AmTrak inspector general Fred Wiederhold raises an important question:

WHO IS ELEANOR ACHESON?

Exactly why that’s an important question . . . well, maybe Fred Wiederhold could explain that, but nobody’s heard a word from Fred since he resigned Thursday.

What we do know is that Wiederhold was asked to provide “specific examples of agency interference with OIG audits and/or investigations.” Maybe if somebody looked closely at those specific examples, they’d find Ms. Acheson’s fingerprints, but that’s strictly a hypothetical, because Wiederhold resigned before he could produce those specific examples.

What we do know is that Amtrak is Joe Biden’s favorite government boondoggle, that Ms. Acheson donated to Biden’s presidential campaign, and that Amtrak is budgeted for $1.3 billion in stimulus money — money that Wiederhold would have been watchdogging for “waste, fraud and abuse,” if he hadn’t resigned last week.

Another question that needs to be asked: When are Sen. Joe Lieberman and Sen. Susan Collins going to convene a hearing on the firing of AmeriCorps IG Gerald Walpin?

As Rick Moran notes at American Thinker, we’re now up to three ex-IGs in less than two weeks and there seems to be a pattern developing. This is to say nothing of the situation with Neil Barofsky, special IG for the TARP bailout money, who is at odds with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

You spend a little shoe-leather on Capitol Hill, and next thing you know, somebody’s explaining that the two questions for Timothy Geithner are “what did he know and when did he know it?”

Watch out for that bus, Mr. Geithner.

Thanks to Carol at No Sheeples Here for the artwork, which is merely hypothetical. Thanks to Jimmie Bise for paying close attention, and to Pundette for her praise of the old-fashioned shoe-leather method.

UPDATE: Jehuda the Rhetorican sees the plot thickening and, as predicted, Michelle Malkin likes the Ellie Acheson question.

The point is, it’s the right question. After I posted about Acheson, I made a phone call: “Am I right?”

“Even more right than you were a couple of hours ago.”

We’ll call that source Deep Cleavage. Throw ’em so far off the scent, they’ll need a map . . .

UPDATE II: More linky-love for the Amtrak IG story from Frugal Cafe and Fire Andrea Mitchell.

UPDATE III: Acheson was brought in as general counsel after Amtrak fired five top officials in December 2006. Thanks to Moe Lane for the tip.