Friday, September 22, 2006

Jackson Urged Favoritism in HUD Contracts

If you want to do business with Housing and Urban Development, it really helps to be a Republican.

An inspector general's report charges that top U.S. housing official Alphonso Jackson urged staff members to favor friends of President Bush when awarding Department of Housing and Urban Development contracts. But investigators so far have found no direct proof that Jackson's staff obeyed.

His chief of staff told investigators that Jackson, the HUD secretary, "personally intervened with contractors whom he did not like . . . these contractors had Democratic political affiliations," says the report, a copy of which was made available to The Washington Post.

The investigation "did not disclose any pattern or practice of issuing contracts based on political affiliation . . . however, there were some limited instances where political affiliation may have been a factor in contract issues involving Jackson," the report says.

Awarding contracts on the basis of party affiliation violates federal law. ...

Calls for an inquiry came after Jackson, Bush's onetime neighbor in Dallas and former housing authority chief in that city, told attendees at a public forum in Dallas on April 28 that he had killed a contract award to a firm after its chief told Jackson he disliked Bush. Jackson later took back his remarks and told investigators from the inspector general's office that he had "lied, and I regret having done that."

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