The FBI, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development inspector general are investigating new allegations of corruption in HUD. Under investigation, are the close ties between a building contractor and HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson, because the contractor accepted around $485,000 in payment after Jackson pushed to have the man hired as a post-Katrina construction manager for public housing properties in New Orleans. As the investigation continues to unfold, it turns out that the contractor is a close golfing buddy of HUD Secretary Jackson.
The golfing buddy and close friend of Jackson, named William Hairston (a stucco contractor), accepted around $485,000 in federal dollars during an 18-month period while working for the housing authority in New Orleans under a non-competitive bid as a consultant and sub-contractor, allegedly due in part to Jackson’s involvement in the hiring scheme.
As reported in the October 4 issue of the National Journal, the current investigation into HUD Secretary Jackson seems to be focused on whether congress was misled when Jackson testified that he does not touch contracts during a congressional inquiry in May of 2006, while Jackson was then under a different investigation at that point for favoring HUD contracts to Bush supporters.
That investigation was launched when during 2006, HUD Secretary Jackson publicly stated that he would not assist people in receiving HUD funded contracts if they were critical of President Bush. The investigation was triggered last year when Jackson told a group of commercial real estate executives that he revoked a HUD contract because the applicant said he did not like President Bush.
In recent years, HUD Secretary Jackson age 62, had also come under fire during May 2004, when he claimed that “being poor is a state of mind, not a condition,” while trying to justify more budget cuts to the nations housing assistance programs during a congressional hearing.
Repeatedly, since coming to office HUD Secretary Jackson has come under fire from housing advocates and politicians all across the nation, and has been asked to resign by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, Rep. John Olver, and Rep. Henry Waxman.
It was during April of 2004, that HUD Secretary Jackson pushed to change the Section 8 program from a voucher based program, to a budget based program, which resulted in further budget cuts to the Section 8 program and a loss of over 250,000 housing vouchers that were in use all over the country at the time, creating much homelessness as a result. HUD Secretary Jackson even pushed for more funding cuts to the Section 8 voucher program that would have resulted in the loss of 600,000 housing vouchers by 2009.
During recent years, HUD Secretary Jackson has repeatedly defended numerous Bush Administration proposals to further cut funding to the nations housing assistance programs for the disabled, elderly, public housing tenants, CDBG programs and the Section 8 program, leaving many to believe that HUD has truely become an enemy of the weak, elderly, disabled and the poor throughout America.
The demise of the nations public housing has accelerated under HUD Secretary Jackson, due to the forced transition into what is called asset management and project based budgeting (AMP), which will require public housing sites to be self sustaining by 2012, like commercial market rate housing.
During the 2006 investigation by HUD’s inspector general (IG), it was revealed that HUD Secretary Jackson instructed his staff to give HUD contracts to political allies of Bush, and to deny contracts to the political opponents of the Bush Regime. The IG’s report also stated that according to Jackson’s Chief of Staff, Jackson obstructed a contract for ABT Associates, because they supported the Democrats.
However, during September 2006, in a lengthy report the HUD IG had rendered a verdict which stated; “Although Jackson had, in fact, urged senior aides to consider the political views of contractors in doling out department business, ‘no direct evidence’ linked political favoritism to such awards.” Somehow, Jackson had managed to slip away, and he was not convicted of anything.
This latest investigation into the HUD Secretary is more than timely, and may force him out of office before he does any more critical damage to the nations housing assistance programs that are being threatened under his tenure.
This time the HUD IG, is working with a federal grand jury, prosecutors from the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, and the FBI into the affairs of HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson, as housing advocates around the nation pay close attention to this latest development that may end up bringing down HUD Secretary Jackson.
Lynda Carson may be reached at email@example.comFiled under: Archive