Third Republican Senator cautions Trump on sidelining Inspectors General

Two weeks ago, I wrote about Republican Senators Rob Portman and James Lankford sharing their concerns in writing over the president’s dismissal of two Inspectors General and the criticism of a third one’s report which shared obvious COVID-19 concerns for hospitals, but ran contrary to the president’s narrative. A link to this post is below.

Now, the senior most Senator from Iowa, Republican Senator Charles Grassley, has added his concerns in a letter to the president. Or, I should say his concerns have now been made public.

In a article called “GOP senator warns Trump against sidelining watchdogs” by Jordain Carney, the following lead paragraphs can be found. A link to the article is below.

“Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is urging President Trump to walk back a signing statement from last month’s massive coronavirus package, warning it could be used to sideline inspectors general (IGs).

Read broadly, this interpretation could be cited as authority to unduly strip IGs of their fundamental ability to timely report waste, fraud, abuse, and misconduct in government programs to Congress. Such authority is vital to their role in securing government transparency and efficiency, and is a critical role that all IGs routinely perform,’ Grassley wrote.

‘I urge you to reconsider the language in your signing statement and take steps to ensure that IGs are able to report effectively to Congress,’ he added.”

As I wrote earlier, the IGs are like auditors in a publicly traded company. If the president were CEO of such as a company, he would be reprimanded and sanctioned by the Independent Board Audit Committee. These IGs exist for a reason, but they are governed by Congress. If Congress abdicates its role, then we are shortchanging our country. I would add, even if this president had veracity, this would still be an issue. The fact he so untrustworthy makes it even more critical to have oversight.

Regardless of party, please ask your Senators and Congressperson to share their concerns over these attacks on the IGs. It simply is not right. And, it certainly, unwise to not protect the integrity of the people doing these jobs.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/gop-senator-warns-trump-against-sidelining-watchdogs/ar-BB133wCz?ocid=spartandhp

https://musingsofanoldfart.wordpress.com/2020/04/16/two-republican-senators-raise-concerns-over-presidents-attack-on-inspector-generals/

Two Republican Senators raise concerns over president’s attack on Inspector Generals

Last week, I wrote a piece equating the attacks on the Inspectors General by the US president as an attack on the auditors of a publicly traded company. Such action would justifiably get the attention of the Board of Directors’ Audit Committee. In an article in POLITICO yesterday called “Trump’s attacks on inspectors general galvanize unusual coalition of critics” by Andrew DeSidero and Kyle Cherry, it was noted two Republican Senators have joined other voices of concern.

Per the article, “Two key Republican senators on Tuesday raised alarm about President Donald Trump’s recent hostility toward the government’s internal watchdogs, tacitly warning that he has threatened their independence and asking the president to support, rather than undermine, them.

In a letter to the president, Sens. James Lankford of Oklahoma and Rob Portman of Ohio also urged Trump to nominate permanent officials to fill the powerful positions, instead of relying on temporary fill-ins that circumvent the Senate’s traditional confirmation process.”

This should raise concern in all members of Congress. The party in the White House is irrelevant to this issue. We are not a kingdom. We are not an autocracy. The Inspectors General serve a vital role in our government and it is Congress’ role to support them and govern their efforts, not the president’s. It is even more true with this president, who I feel is the most corrupt and deceitful president in my lifetime, including Richard Nixon who was a crook.

A key question we all must ask is “why?” Why the dismissals and why not greater consternation from all Senators. Senators Portman and Lankford deserve kudos for doing the right thing.

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/14/trumps-attacks-on-inspectors-general-draw-critics-186679

Inspector Generals and Auditors

What do Enron, Healthsouth, Adelphia and Tyco have in common? All were found guilty of fraudulent activities. And, each were misled by CEOs and even CFOs. The names Kenneth Lay and Richard Skilling of Enron (accounting and tax fraud), Richard Scrushy of HealthSouth (accounting fraud), John and Tim Rigas of Adelphia (fraud, corruption and theft) and Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Switz of Tyco (massive theft) will not be remembered in a good light. The Enron scandal even brought down one of the largest accounting firms, Arthur Andersen.

Because of their activities, the SEC passed a rule stating that the Board of Directors’ Audit Committee must be given greater authority and independence. In short, the Audit Committee must be independent of the Executive Committee and cannot include the President or Treasurer. It also must:

– Not include anyone employed by the organization or the audit firm
– Have at least one “ financial expert ” who is familiar with the audit process
– Avoid conflicts of interest.

In the federal government, the Inspector General’s office imbedded in each of the departments of the Executive branch serves like an auditor. The equivalent Board oversight is the Congress of the United States, not the president. It is a very important role that keeps America running like a democracy and not an autocracy. When this oversight is compromised, America’s democracy is diminished.

I raise this now as the president of the United States seems to be at war with the Inspector Generals in the Executive branch. Friday night, the president sent a letter that he was firing Michael Atkinson who did his job and reported to Congress the veracity of a whistleblower complaint. To Atkinson’s credit, he publicly defended his role and encouraged whistleblowers to still come forward.

This week, the Glenn Fine, the appointed IG overseeing the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus fund, was removed and will be replaced by a Trump appointee. Fine was well regarded in this role coming out of the Department of Defense. Something seems fishy here.

If that were not enough, the president was critical of a US Department of Health and Human Services IG report led by Christi Grimm. The report was critical of the hospital preparedness for the coronavirus, which is not a surprise, since hospitals and governors are begging for help.

What does all of this mean? Why is the president at war with the Inspector General’s office? Is he hiding something? Are they saying things that run counter to his own storytelling which is well-known to be less than truthful? If this were a publicly traded company, these actions would raise a red flag with the Audit Committee. They should do the same with Congressional oversight.

In short, the US is not a kingdom. It is not an autocracy. The president has never reported to anyone before his swearing in, except for his father. He is highly accustomed to not being questioned. In fact, he does not like being questioned, which is apparent on a daily basis. Yet, he must answer to Congress. I urge Congress to do their job. They must represent Americans, not a political party.