June 18, 2009 - ABCNews’ Jake Tapper & Matt Jaffe report
Treasury Department Challenges Independence of TARP Inspector General
The Obama administration’s disputes with government watchdogs do not end with fired Inspector General Gerald Walpin. Behind the scenes, the Treasury Department is embroiled in a disagreement with Neil Barofsky, the watchdog for the $700 billion government bailout Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.
The dispute was revealed in a letter that Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, sent on Wednesday to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, first reported by the Los Angeles Times’ Peter Wallsten.
As part of his duties performing audits and keeping tracking TARP dollars, Barofsky asked the Treasury Department for some documents about a financial institution receiving tens of billions in taxpayer bailout dollars. The Treasury Department refused to hand them over, “on a specious claim of attorney-client privilege,” Grassley wrote. “It is my further understanding that this disagreement then escalated into broader questions about whether SIGTARP is subject to your direct supervision and direction, which may have been referred outside Treasury for an independent legal opinion.”