WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Claire McCaskill - a key Senate critic of the way the Obama administration launched the removal process for the government's Americorps watchdog - said Monday the White House's new letter accusing Gerald Walpin of being "disoriented" and "unduly disruptive" had brought it into compliance with legal requirements.
"Last night, in response to my request for adequate information on the firing of Inspector General for the Corporation for National and Community Service Gerald Walpin, the White House submitted a letter to Senators Lieberman and Collins that now puts the White House in full compliance with the notice requirement in the law," the Missouri Democrat said in a statement issued Wednesday.
"The next step for Congress is to use the 30 days provided by the notice to seek further information and undertake any further review that might be necessary. The reasons given in the most recent White House letter are substantial and the decision to remove Walpin appears well founded."
The statement echoes her comment on Twitter earlier in the day. "The letter from the White House late yesterday is certainly compliance with the law as to reason for removal," she tweeted in response to a query from a Missouri reporter.
The White House informed Congress last week that Walpin had been suspended, and would be dismissed within 30 days. The move sparked congressional criticism - complaints that the administration had not included the legally required information explaining their decision. In a Tuesday statement, McCaskill had called on the White House to explain its failure "to follow the proper procedure in notifying Congress as to the removal of the Inspector General for the Corporation for National and Community Service."
In a Tuesday night letter the White House offered their explanation. "Mr. Walpin was removed after a review was unanimously requested by the bi-partisan Board of the Corporation," wrote Norm Eisen, the president's ethics counsel. "The Board's action was precipitated by a May 20, 2009 Board meeting at which Mr. Walpin was confused, disoriented, unable to answer questions and exhibited other behavior that led the Board to question his capacity to serve."
Eisen's letter, which was sent to Democrat Claire McCaskill Tuesday night, was addressed to independent Sen. Joe Lieberman and Republican Sen. Susan Collins.
It accused Walpin of engaging in "troubling and inappropriate conduct," and pointed to an investigation by the U.S. attorney's office in Sacramento of the inspector general charged with overseeing Americorps. "Mr. Walpin had become unduly disruptive to agency operations, impairing his effectiveness and, for the reasons stated above, losing the confidence of the Board and the agency," wrote Eisen. "It was for these reasons that Mr. Walpin was removed."
Walpin denied the charges, telling Politico late Tuesday that he had been the victim of a politically-motivated witch hunt, because of investigations he had launched that focused on supporters of the president. "Anybody who's heard me speaking more than I'm used to speaking on radio and TV in recent days, obviously under great pressure from what happened would clearly know that I know what I'm saying and what I'm doing and I'm not incoherent," said Walpin.
"There's nothing confusing about malfeasance and there's nothing confusing about what appears to be the fact that they terminated me because I was doing my job because the White House wanted to protect people who proclaim they are friends of the White House."