Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that Alphonso Jackson is now telling the truth. (And we have serious doubts.) Through his spokesperson, Jackson now says his original story about canceling a contract because the contractor criticized Bush was a fabrication.
So why did Jackson make up such a story? Jackson was speaking to the Real Estate Executive Council, a consortium of minorities in the real estate industry. According to his spokesperson, Dustee Tucker, he was “trying to explain to this group how politics works in D.C.” Tucker said he was trying to send the group a “message.”
Whether the story was true or not, the “message” was clear. If you are critical of President Bush you won’t be receiving contracts from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Trying to intimidate people with this kind of rhetoric is deeply unethical. Jackson is being entrusted with public funds. He has an obligation that those funds are spent for the public’s maximum benefit, not to reward those who have the same political beliefs.
Whether Jackson’s story was true or not, serious ethical improprieties are involved. This is not about a gaffe or gossip. (Nevertheless, that’s exactly how the Washington Post treated it, relegating it to Al Kamen’s column.) It’s about the fundamental obligations of public officials. It’s time for the rest of the media to follow the lead of the Dallas Business Journal and the Dallas Morning News and start taking it seriously.
UPDATE: More on the story from Georgia10 at DailyKos.