Skip to comments.Who Railroaded the Amtrak Inspector General?
Posted on 07/01/2009 4:09:33 AM PDT by Kaslin
Watchdogs are an endangered species in the Age of Obama. The latest government ombudsman to get the muzzle: Amtrak Inspector General Fred Weiderhold. The longtime veteran employee was abruptly "retired" this month -- just as the government-subsidized rail service faces mounting complaints about its meddling in financial audits and probes.
Question the timing? Hell, yes.
On June 18, Weiderhold met with Amtrak officials to discuss the results of an independent report by the Washington, D.C., law firm Willkie, Farr and Gallagher. The 94-page report has been made publicly available through the office of whistleblower advocate Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. It concluded that the "independence and effectiveness" of the Amtrak inspector general's office "are being substantially impaired" by the agency's Law Department.
Amtrak bosses have effectively gagged their budgetary watchdogs from communicating with Congress without pre-approval; required that all Amtrak documents be "pre-screened" (and in some cases redacted) before being turned over to the inspector general's office; and taken control of the inspector general's $5 million portion of federal stimulus spending.
Moreover, the report revealed, Amtrak regularly retained outside law firms shielded from IG reach. In another case, Amtrak's Law Department appeared to meddle in an inspector general investigation of an outside financial adviser suspected of inflating fees. The consultant ran to the Law Department when the IG demanded documents, and the Law Department repudiated the IG's instructions on complying with a subpoena.
These interventions (ongoing since 2007) have "systematically violated the letter and spirit of the Inspector General Act," according to Grassley. IG staffers now fear retaliation -- and with good reason. Their boss, Weiderhold, lost his job on the very day Amtrak received the Willkie, Farr and Gallagher report. It may be hot and humid in the rest of the Beltway, but every inspector general's office is feeling an Arctic chill.
The transparent sacking comes just as Amtrak is awash in more than $1.3 billion in new federal stimulus money. It comes on the heels of the unceremonious dismissal of Gerald Walpin, the AmeriCorps inspector general who dared to probe financial shenanigans by Obama cronies. (See "Obama's AmeriCrooks and Cronies Scandal," June 17, 2009.) And it comes on the heels of the stifling of veteran Environmental Protection Agency employee Alan Carlin, the researcher who dared to question the Obama administration's conventional wisdom on global warming. (See "EPA's Game of Global Warming Hide-and-Seek," June 26, 2009.)
Question the timing? You betcha.
So, who is behind the railroading of the Amtrak inspector general? As with the story of the AmeriCorps firing, which has First Lady Michelle Obama's fingerprints on it, the Amtrak case smells like cronyism. Investigative journalist Robert Stacy McCain, who has watchdogged the watchdog stories, noted last week that Amtrak's vice president and general counsel is Eleanor Acheson.
Acheson, an old friend of Hillary Clinton, also has close ties to Vice President Joe "Mr. Amtrak" Biden. She hired Biden's nominations counsel Jonathan Meyer to serve as her deputy general counsel. The two had also worked together in the Clinton Justice Department. Meyer called his hiring at Amtrak by Acheson a "happy coincidence," according to Legal Times. (In another "happy coincidence," Biden's lobbyist son, Hunter, sits on Amtrak's board of directors.) Acheson oversees the very Law Department accused of interfering repeatedly with the taxpayer advocates in the inspector general's office.
Grassley has requested that Amtrak supply information on Weiderhold's unexpected retirement, as well as internal and personal materials related to his departure and the report on Amtrak managers' meddling. On the House side, Reps. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., and Darrell Issa, R-Calif., announced a probe Monday into Amtrak's actions. They zeroed in on Amtrak's choice of Lorraine Green to replace the "retired" Weiderhold.
Who is Lorraine Green? She's a former Amtrak human resources executive and faithful Democrat donor with no experience in the inspector general business. Her expertise? Managing "diversity initiatives" for the agency. Watchdog out. Lapdog in.
Can someone open a window? The fetid odor of Hope and Change is really starting to stink up the joint.
AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA
By Lou Pritchett
Dear President Obama:
You are the thirteenth President under whom I have lived and unlike any of the others, you truly scare me.
You scare me because after months of exposure, I know nothing about you.
You scare me because I do not know how you paid for your expensive Ivy League education and your upscale lifestyle and housing with no visible signs of support.
You scare me because you did not spend the formative years of youth growing up in America and culturally you are not an American.
You scare me because you have never run a company or met a payroll.
You scare me because you have never had military experience, thus don’t understand it at its core.
You scare me because you lack humility and ‘class’, always blaming others.
You scare me because for over half your life you have aligned yourself with radical extremists who hate America and you refuse to publicly denounce these radicals who wish to see America fail.
You scare me because you are a cheerleader for the ‘blame America’ crowd and deliver this message abroad.
You scare me because you want to change America to a European style country where the government sector dominates instead of the private sector.
You scare me because you want to replace our health care system with a government controlled one.
You scare me because you prefer ‘wind mills’ to responsibly capitalizing on our own vast oil, coal and shale reserves.
You scare me because you want to kill the American capitalist goose that lays the golden egg which provides the highest standard of living in the world.
You scare me because you have begun to use ‘extortion’ tactics against certain banks and corporations.
You scare me because your own political party shrinks from challenging you on your wild and irresponsible spending proposals.
You scare me because you will not openly listen to or even consider opposing points of view from intelligent people.
You scare me because you falsely believe that you are both omnipotent and omniscient.
You scare me because the media gives you a free pass on everything you do.
You scare me because you demonize and want to silence the Limbaughs, Hannitys, O’Relllys and Becks who offer opposing, conservative points of view.
You scare me because you prefer controlling over governing.
Finally, you scare me because if you serve a second term I will probably not feel safe in writing a similar letter in 8 years.
Note: Lou Pritchett is a former vice president of Procter & Gamble whose career at that company spanned 36 years before his retirement in 1989, and he is the author of the 1995 business book, Stop Paddling & Start Rocking the Boat.
The most transparent administration in history is apparently very much commie. When will the sheeple wake up?
The Democrat party is a criminal enterprise......believe it!
What is the point of telling a predator that he scares you? Normal folks (non Democrat, non criminals) keep pointing out that the Obama administration is engaged in the destruction of the United States. This includes people like Beck and Rush. There’s big news. Somebody wake me up when it’s time to do something about it. All this whining is making me sleepy.
A serious pattern of cleaning house is going on. Who will be retired or fired next?
short term answer - end Amtrak. Either there’s a market niche or there isn’t.
Long term answer: end lots more fed spending programs.
That is a fact.
Whats new? We are allowing this O admin to do as they please.
No one will stop them so why be surprised at one more criminal or unConstitional outrage?
We have a criminal enterprise running our country that Don Corleone would be in awe of.
Transparency can also mean to see through. One has to be blind not to see through the lies of this arrogant mealy-mouthed pos and his administration
You vill do as Ubama says, or you vill suffer the consequences. He is our better.
I see an Amtrak train frequently because it parallels my route to work for several miles and apparently our schedules coincide. I look carefully into the train a few times a month and each time it is entirely empty.
For as long as I can remember I had wanted to travel on a train, last summer I finally had an opportunity to to do that.
First thing the train was 2 1/2 hrs. late, it was filthy, the employees were rude, and the food, airline food would be fine dining in comparison.
And they made a point to announce that anyone smoking on board would be arrested, the train would be stopped immediately, and the perp would be hauled off to the local jail, wherever that may be.
Amtrak no thanks.
I rode the Metroliner from NYC to Washington DC and back many times and absolutely loved it. It was clean, fast, nice employees, but I never ate more than a hotdog and pound cake in the snack car so can’t speak for the food. I love riding on a train. That was back in the 70’s/early 80’s.
The Feds should sell AMTRAK! Of course, we'll have to wait until the Leftist RINO’s & ‘Rats are replaced in Congress and in the WH before that ever happens.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.