The independence of inspectors generals comes under fire.
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Given the controversial nature of the TARP — including the public outcry over bonuses paid to top employees of insurance giant AIG, a bailout beneficiary — Grassley is by no means the only member of Congress interested in preserving Barofsky’s independence. In April, Geithner was grilled by Texas Republican Rep. Jeb Hensarling and other members of Congress at a hearing after Barofsky reported a “staggering” amount of fraud in the bailout program.
Hensarling is one of the staunchest critics of TARP and, as ABC News reported last week, the Texan sent a letter to Elizabeth Warren, chairwoman of the congressional panel charged with overseeing the bailout, warning that Treasury’s actions were a “threat to [Barofksy’s] independence.”
Several observers see the administration’s push against the IGs as emblematic of the notorious Chicago style of political hardball that Obama learned to play early in his career. As investigators move forward in their effort to safeguard the independence of the inspectors general, it will be an important test of whether “the Chicago way” will prevail on the shores of the Potomac.