It was a bitterly funny turn of events for some longtime Johnson observers, who remember when he was the guy making repulsive admissions on tape while speaking with a much younger female with whom he never should've been involved. At the very least, they believe Johnson—with an assist from Rhee—earned a lifetime ban from the moral high ground many years ago. "All I can say is the factually supported charges against Johnson certainly bring into question holding him out to be a moral compass," says New York attorney Gerald Walpin. From 2007 to 2009, Walpin was inspector general for the Corporation for National Community Service. That's the federal agency that oversees AmeriCorps. On that job, Walpin investigated St. HOPE Academy, a group Johnson founded to run charter schools in his hometown of Sacramento that got lots of AmeriCorps money. In 2008, Walpin issued a referral to the local U.S. Attorney for the "criminal and civil prosecution" of Johnson for "obtaining by law federal funds under a grant," and the "filing of false and fraudulent claims" in connection with subsidies totaling $845,018.75. The allegations included lots of bogus accounting. People on AmeriCorps's dime as St. HOPE tutors, according to a joint report on Walpin's investigation issued by Congressional Republicans, were being asked to "wash his car [and] run personal errands" for Johnson. But the seamiest stuff in those files, and there's a lot of it, comes when investigators take a break from possible fiscal malfeasance to accuse Johnson of physical misdeeds. According to the oversight committee's report, Walpin included allegations of "inappropriate sexual conduct" against Johnson in his criminal referral to the U.S. attorney's office because they could "seriously impact ... both the security of young [AmeriCorps] Members placed in the care of grantees and ... the ability of AmeriCorps to continue to attract volunteers." Johnson's past, as outlined by the committee, also includes alleged hush-money payments to make all this bad news go away. Judging by the non-mention in The New York Times's opus, it largely has gone away.
This story just gets weirder and weirder. The ever-grifting Michelle Rhee even makes an appearance. You can't make this stuff up.