Grassley, Issa: Recess appointment of ethics czar was 'inappropriate'

Two prominent Republican watchdogs are objecting to a recent recess appointment by President Obama.

In a letter to White House counsel Bob Bauer, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, called the recess appointment of Norm Eisen as U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic "particularly inappropriate."

A Harvard Law School classmate of Obama's, Eisen is the White House ethics czar who has helped craft many of the administration's ethics and transparency initiatives.

Reid Cherlin, a White House spokesman, said Eisen "is an outstanding public servant who has served the Administration with distinction."

Grassley and Issa have objected to Eisen's recess appointment for his role in the June 2009 firing of Inspector General Gerald Walpin of the Corporation for National and Community Service. Walpin has claimed he was fired in political retaliation for investigating an Obama ally, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, for his alleged misuse of federal funds.

The two lawmakers later authored an report looking into Walpin's firing, which blasted the White House. Nevertheless, Walpin has seen his own lawsuit over his termination thrown out of court last year. His appeal to that decision was denied last week in federal appeals court.

"The issues raised in the letter have been repeatedly addressed and rejected by independent reviewers, including by a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit which last week threw out the appeal of the case," Cherlin said. "Norm will make a great Ambassador and all of us here in the White House wish him well as he represents our nation in Prague," Cherlin said.

In their letter to Bauer, Grassley and Issa said Eisen did not respond to several questions when meeting with their investigators and misled them about how extensively he looked into Walpin's firing. In addition, they say the White House called off a meeting last month with little notice to discuss their concerns over Eisen's nomination.

"By calling off a face-to-face meeting in favor of a recess appointment, the White House sent the message that the President is not interested in hearing the concerns of Republican Members of Congress," Grassley and Issa said in the letter.