The driver of an SUV struck and killed a former White House-appointed watchdog while he was crossing the street yesterday, police said. Gerald Walpin, 84, was crossing 79th Street at Lexington Avenue at about 11:00 a.m. when a 52-year-old driver made a left turn at the intersection and struck him, according to the investigation. Emergency responders found Walpin lying in the intersection with head trauma, and he was transported to New York Presbyterian hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.
Walpin, an attorney from New York, had been appointed the inspector general for the federal AmeriCorps program under the George W. Bush administration, the AP reports. In that capacity, he investigated Sacramento's mayor, Kevin Johnson, for the hundreds of thousands of federal dollars that his nonprofit had received from the corporation that runs AmeriCorps—Walpin said that money was spent improperly, occasionally on Johnson's personal expenses. He also alleged that Johnson had engaged in "inappropriate sexual conduct" with three female students who attended charter schools funded by the nonprofit.
But the acting U.S. attorney at the time said that Walpin himself acted improperly in that investigation, in that he excluded evidence from his report that showed some of the money was spent properly. In 2009, President Obama fired him, though his administration said the firing wasn't because of Walpin's AmeriCorps investigation, but rather because he appeared "disorganized, forgetful, and bizarre," calling into question his competence.
Walpin subsequently sued to get his job back, alleging agism and stating that he had been sick in the meeting where he'd appeared "bizarre," but that shouldn't have been grounds for his firing. He lost that suit in 2010, and since then had been a contributor to publications such as the National Review, the Washington Times, and the Wall Street Journal. He was also a partner with the NYC law firm Katten Muchin and Rosenman LLP for over four decades, according to the AP.
The driver who struck Walpin remained at the scene, and there haven't been any arrests, police said. The investigation is ongoing.