"Inspector General: Bush’s Housing Secretary Told Staff To Award Contracts To Political Allies"
In May, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Alphonso Jackson told a group of minority buisness people that he canceled a government contract because the contractor criticized President Bush.
The resulting uproar resulted in a series of conflicting statements from Jackson and his spokeswoman, Dustee Tucker. Jackson stood by his story for several days before claiming it was “made-up” and intended to show “how Washington works.”
The incident prompted an investigation by the HUD Inspector General. The Dallas Morning News got a look at the 340-page report yesterday. The report concluded that an incident similar to the one Jackson described did occur.
Additionally, the Inspector General — through interviews with top HUD staffers — found that Jackson was involved in even more egregious behavior. The report reveals that Jackson instructed staff to award HUD contracts to President Bush’s political allies and withhold them from his political opponents. From the Dallas Morning News:
In a follow-up interview on June 8, investigators confronted her with testimony from Cathy MacFarlane, who resigned that month as HUD’s assistant secretary for public affairs. Ms. MacFarlane told investigators that at a senior staff meeting, Mr. Jackson “made a statement to the effect that it was important to consider presidential supporters when you are considering the selected candidates for discretionary contracts.”
And Ms. MacFarlane told investigators, “I think it was a political [appointee] talking to a political, saying if all things are equal, you’re giving out a contract, give it out to the family, you know.”
The testimony stirred Ms. Pierce’s memory.
“He did say that he did not want contracts awarded — he did say something about political groups, maybe to Democrats or something like that,” she said in the follow-up interview…
…Roy Bernardi, the No. 2 official at HUD and a former mayor of Syracuse, N.Y., also testified that he recalled Mr. Jackson’s statement at the staff meeting.
Jackson’s conduct appears to be in clear violation of federal law, specifically the Federal Aquisition Reguations (48 CFR 3.101-1) which requires that “Government business shall be conducted in a manner above reproach and…with complete impartiality and with preferential treatment for none.” President Bush should not tolerate this blantant violation of the public trust.