Only in the Obama administration would a public official sanctioned for a form of malfeasance be honored as a speaker by the same organization that sanctioned him. It helps, of course, when he is a self-proclaimed Friend of the First Couple. It also doesn't hurt that the administration already found it politically convenient to fire the inspector general, Gerald Walpin, who blew the whistle on his misdeeds.
Still, the public should consider it a brazen affront for this administration to feature Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson as a key speaker at a major conference sponsored later this month by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). Common decency should disallow such a scandal.
On the grounds of image alone, Mr. Johnson sends the wrong message, considering that four different young women or teenage girls have accused Mr. Johnson of inappropriate sexual conduct. Three of the four were actually affiliated with the very institution, the St. Hope Academy, that was sponsored through CNCS grants. (CNCS is the parent body for the AmeriCorps national "volunteering" program.) In none of the cases were charges ever pressed, but one of the students said she was offered $1,000 per month in exchange for her silence, and two staff members resigned from St. Hope to protest how the academy tried (in the words of one of them) to "intimidate the student*." And in the first instance, in the summer of 1995, Mr. Johnson at one point agreed to pay the girl $230,000, according to the Sacramento Bee, after protesting that he "didn't recall us being a hundred percent naked" during the incident.
The sordid sex allegations weren't even what caused Mr. Johnson, a former National Basketball Association star, to be sanctioned. Instead, he was found responsible for multiple financial misdeeds and ordered personally to help St. Hope repay nearly half a million dollars to AmeriCorps. Specifically, investigators found that Mr. Johnson and St. Hope misused federal funds to assign political projects to AmeriCorps workers; to have them run personal errands for Mr. Johnson, wash his car and drive him to personal appointments; to pay staff salaries at St. Hope from funds meant for AmeriCorps grantees; and several other similar improprieties.
Despite such flagrant abuse of CNCS programs, CNCS has invited this man to be a featured speaker at the June 28-30 National Conference on Volunteering and Service, which is advertised as "the world's largest gathering of volunteer and service leaders from the nonprofit, government and corporate sectors." Such an over-the-top level of inappropriateness is flabbergasting even for the O Force.
And Byron York weighs in on this as well, with more of the details:
In 2004, St. HOPE received a three-year grant from AmeriCorps totaling $847,673. The money was to help St. HOPE “revitalize inner-city communities through public education, civic leadership, economic development and the arts,” according to the group’s mission statement. But in 2008, the inspector general of AmeriCorps found that Johnson used large portions of the grant for, among other things, “driving [Johnson] to personal appointments, washing his car, and running personal errands.”
After an investigation by federal prosecutors, Johnson and St. HOPE were required to repay AmeriCorps $423,836 — half the original grant. At the same time, officials at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which oversees AmeriCorps, banned Johnson from receiving any more federal dollars. Johnson was not charged with any crime, and the funding ban was lifted in 2009 when Sacramento officials expressed the fear that it might prevent the city from receiving millions of dollars in federal stimulus money. But the fact remains: Kevin Johnson misused hundreds of thousands of dollars in AmeriCorps money.
Here is a pdf of the charges.
Here is a copy of the settlement.
But what do we expect from a guy who sells out Eastern Europe and whose career was launched by Bill Ayers? This guy flaunts his lousy buddies as heroes. He gave us Van Jones, for goodness sake! However, team Obama and Americorps is trying to play "don't blame us:"
A spokeswoman for the Corporation for National and Community Service says CNCS had nothing to do with selecting Johnson and that the Sacramento mayor will appear at the request of a group called “Cities of Service.” “He was invited by Cities of Service, which is working to harness the power of volunteers in cities across America,” says CNCS press secretary Ashley Etienne. “He’s participating in a panel organized by Cities of Service, and we were not involved.”
“Cities of Service” is an organization founded last year by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg as part of President Obama’s “United We Serve” initiative. According to the White House website, Cities of Service was created “in partnership with CNCS.”
Hmmm....kind of not adding up, is it? Well, let's ask the guy who got fired for investigating Johnson, former Inspector General Walpin:
“This is a CNCS/AmeriCorps conference,” he says. “I can’t believe that CNCS doesn’t control who is invited and who speaks at a CNCS national conference.” And even if Bloomberg’s group wanted to include Johnson, Walpin says, what was CNCS’s reaction? “Assuming that the invitation was tendered to Johnson by Cities of Service (hard to believe without CNCS approval), when CNCS learned about it, what did it do?” asks Walpin. “Did it, as it clearly could, being the host, tell the supposed independent inviting entity that CNCS would not allow it?”
The audacity of arrogance of this administration is amazing! Thug life, baby, thuggin and buggin.