Congress passed the original Inspector
General Act in 1978, we required a President who wants to remove an IG to
provide Congress specific reasons why.
Congress revised the IG Act thirty years later, we amended that notification
requirement and made it even stronger.
required Presidents to tell us their reasons no less than 30 days in advance.
of these provisions did anything to prevent a President from using their
constitutional authority to fire an IG.
Presidents from both political parties seem to have a hard time following this simple
President Obama fired IG Walpin of the Corporation for National and Community
Service in 2009, he sent a vaguely worded letter saying only that he’d, “lost
confidence” in Mr. Walpin.
President Trump fired IGs Linick and Atkinson last year, he sent letters to
Congress saying the same thing.
I explained to both Presidents when they sent those letters, merely telling
Congress that you have “lost confidence” in an IG isn’t enough.
“loss of confidence” occurs only after something happens.
announcing their decision to remove an IG from office, Presidents need to tell
us what that something is.
need to explain why they’ve lost confidence.
to do so misses the point of the notice requirement entirely.
notice requirement isn’t about the President’s confidence in one IG. It’s about
the public’s confidence in the IG system.
are put in office to serve as government watchdogs.
IGs are carrying out their duties as intended, they are likely going to make
more enemies than friends.
may uncover things that make the sitting President and his political appointees
President is going to like every investigation that an IG undertakes, or every
report they prepare.
IGs should not be fired just for doing their jobs or to prevent them from
releasing findings that are embarrassing to the administration.
the President to explain in advance why he or she is removing an IG gives
Congress time to evaluate those reasons.
helps assure Congress and the public that the termination isn’t based on
politics, but on real problems with the IG’s ability to carry out their mission.
course, there has been no shortage of bad IGs who were deserving of removal.
of them are still in office.
I called for the President to remove the Federal Housing Finance Agency IG due
to an independent report by the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity
and Efficiency that verified longstanding claims to my office that she abused
originally came to my office in 2015 with concerning reports the IG was
personally and publicly demeaning her employees.
referred to them with demeaning names such as “Weasel.”
IG also allowed her Deputy to threaten employees who blew the whistle to my
was over five years ago.
can you believe it? The abuse is still happening today.
on my investigation and CIGIE’s findings, I firmly believe the IG needs to go. But
I don’t get to make that decision.
the Constitution, the ultimate judgment call is reserved for the President.
gets to decide when to exercise his constitutional authority. He has the right
to do so, and will ultimately be held accountable for that decision by the
he has to do – all that is required of him under the law – is to give Congress
how things should work. That’s how things were designed to work.
unfortunately, that’s not what’s been happening.
clear to me that we have to be even clearer that when we say we want reasons,
we actually mean it.
making the decision to remove an IG, Presidents must send substantive, specific
reasons to Congress in advance, explaining the actions they’re taking and why
they’re taking them.
why I introduced S. 587, the Securing Inspector General Independence Act.
addition to making the notice requirement even more clear, my bill would limit
who can be an IG in an acting capacity and require CIGIE to provide guidance
for additional whistleblower training for all IG employees.
cosponsors and I have an interest in keeping our IG system strong and neutral
and that’s what this bill does.
encourage all of my colleagues to support it, and ask that the Homeland
Security Committee give it full consideration.