[UPDATE] In honor of Troglopundit’s request for respect for the KISS principle, here goes:
Fred Weiderhold quit rather than tell Congress he was under Biden’s thumb.
If you don’t have time to read the report that apparently triggered the Weiderhold matter (said report is also available via Senator Grassley’s office, as part of his ongoing investigation) – or even Stacy McCain’s article – here’s a quick timeline.
- June 18, 2009: Fred Weiderhold, Inspector General for Amtrak, receives a report from a third-party legal firm indicating that Amtrak’s Law Department’s oversight of the Office of the Inspector General resulted in a situation where (as Grassley’s letter put it) “Amtrak’s policies and procedures have systematically violated the letter and spirit of the Inspector General Act.” The firm recommends that Congress be notified, either at the next semiannual report or immediately.
- June 18, 2009 (evening): Weiderhold resigns.
Here are the bullet points from the report: sorry about the pictures, but I haven’t found text yet.
As noted above, this didn’t happen: Weiderhold instead resigned immediately, for reasons that are not yet confirmed – although Sen Grassley certainly intends to try. I strongly encourage people to read the whole thing, as it catalogs several years’ worth of steadily increasing interference – years that correspond to both GC Acheson’s and Board member Hunter Biden’s tenure at Amtrak – of the legal department of Amtrak with the duties and obligations of the OIG. Pejman Yousefzadeh of The New Ledger sums up this aspect of the larger IG controversy quite well, I think:
A new IG recently bit the dust; Fred Wiederhold of Amtrak, who retired “without notice or explanation,” after having presented a report prepared by the law firm of Wilkie, Farr & Gallagher, accusing Amtrak officials of having “systematically violated the letter and spirit of the Inspector General Act,” by ordering third parties to send documents that were under subpoena by the IG to Amtrak first for review, and by attacking the IG for having communicated directly with Congressional “appropriations and authorizing committees.” As Senator Charles Grassley suggests, these actions constitute “a long-term and unrelenting interference with the activities and operation” of the IG. The entire report, while long, is very much worth a read and quite illuminating on the subject. It is also quite damning when it comes to discussing the Obama Administration’s behavior towards Inspectors General.
Perhaps–just perhaps–an investigation of Amtrak’s relationship with its IG is in order. During the course of that investigation, we might wish to inquire why a paid lobbyist is the current vice president and legal counsel for Amtrak, and whether efforts to protect Amtrak from vigorous IG oversight have anything to do with the fact that the current Vice President of the United States is a longtime Amtrak patron–not to mention the fact that Hunter Biden, the son of the current Vice President of the United States, happens to sit on the Amtrak board.
I will end by noting that this is not a situation where we should ask “What did the Vice President know, and when did he know it?” We don’t need to: the only scenarios where he didn’t know about it all and from the start are ones that are distinctly unflattering to his awareness, if not his basic intelligence.
What we should be asking is, “Why did the Vice President remain silent on this, and why was he not exercising his boasted oversight?”
Crossposted to Moe Lane.