HUD Secretary Cleared of Partisan Favors, Kind of

In Culture of Corruption, Economic Justice, Housing, Laws & Regulation, New York City, Race, US Politics on September 27, 2006 at 6:29 pm

There was all kindsa crap about this one initially after it happened (not the least of which was the Wonkette’s bestowing “spokeshottie” status on Dustee Tucker of HUD):

A recent investigation into remarks by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson raises as many questions as it answers, with conflicting accounts on how political affiliations may have played into contract award decisions at the agency.

The inspector general investigation was requested by several members of Congress in May after a news story in the Dallas Business Journal that Jackson told participants at a minority business conference that he had personally scuttled the contract of a man who said he did not support President Bush. Shortly after the news account, Jackson released a statement saying the story he had shared was made up.

Investigators concluded that the substance of Jackson’s remarks was partly true. But they did not unearth evidence that would implicate the HUD chief for unethical or illegal contracting practices.

Rather, the report presented page after page of sworn testimony by Jackson and senior staff members — some of it conflicting — on procurement practices at the department and Jackson’s involvement in contracts since he joined the agency in June 2001.

Investigators also heard from two senior staff members — Chief of Staff Camille Pierce and Deputy Secretary Roy Bernardi — that Jackson told political appointees at a staff meeting that it was important “to consider presidential supporters” in the award of “discretionary” contracts. Other officials said they had not heard Jackson make that remark.

Another official, General Counsel Keith Gottfried, said he had heard rumors that Jackson tries to help his friends win contracts, though he said he had never heard of contracts being rescinded or terminated as a result of the secretary’s actions.


The investigators’ report delves into several specific contracts that were handled questionably. One of those was a contract with Abt Associates, a company that many officials recalled the secretary disliked. According to Pierce, his chief of staff, “There was a question about the Abt award, and he said the quality of Abt work is inferior, and besides, they are a Democratic organization. No, no, he didn’t — he said he believed that they would take their money, the HUD money, and contribute it to the Democratic Party or something.”

That award eventually was signed, Pierce recounted, when Jackson learned Congress already had been notified of the award recipient.


The investigators’ report, prepared by Anthony Medici, special agent in charge of the HUD inspector general’s office’s criminal investigations division, has not been publicly released but has been distributed to those members of Congress who requested it. A congressional staffer with access to the report said the department considers it to have the same protections as a personnel file, and thus, to be subject to the Privacy Act. Mike Zerega, spokesman for the IG’s office, would not comment on the reasons for not publishing it.

The executive summary of the 340-page report has been leaked online, and a staffer said Democratic senators likely would call for hearings and further investigations after a rush of last-minute business this week.


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