Senate Housing Leaders Call for HUD Secretary Jackson's Resignation

Mar 21 2008

Following Jackson's refusals to adequately respond to Congressional inquiries, Murray and Dodd call for Jackson's resignation

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Following hearings before their Committees in which Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Jackson continually refused to respond to direct questions, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD), and U.S. Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, today sent a letter to President Bush calling for Jackson's resignation.
“Last Thursday, HUD Secretary Jackson demonstrated to my subcommittee that he is not fit to run his agency," Senator Murray said.  "We are in the midst of a national housing crisis.  The allegations of cronyism and favoritism against Secretary Jackson are a worsening distraction at HUD at a time when we must have a credible housing secretary that is beyond suspicion.  It is time for Secretary Jackson to go."
“Secretary Jackson has repeatedly demonstrated that he is not in the position to provide the type of leadership that is necessary during these trying and difficult times,” said Dodd.  “Given findings in the Inspector General’s report that Secretary Jackson advised his senior staff to improperly take political affiliation into account in awarding contracts; serious allegations about his impropriety currently under investigation in three separate cases; and his repeated failure to answer written and oral questions by Members of Congress, I do not believe Secretary Jackson is capable of effectively carrying out his responsibilities and the responsibilities of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Now, more than ever, we need a HUD Secretary who can devote his full energy to solving our nation’s housing crisis.”
At her subcommittee hearing on the HUD budget, Murray repeatedly asked Jackson pointed and specific questions regarding a number of allegations of wrongdoing on his part – giving the Secretary the opportunity to debunk any misunderstandings and clear his name.  Instead, Jackson stubbornly refused to provide the answers the American public deserves.
At a Senate Banking Committee hearing, Secretary Jackson refused to answer questions by several members of the Committee.  Following the hearing, Dodd sent a letter to Jackson asking for information on the various allegations of impropriety he is facing.  The response received from HUD did not adequately address Dodd’s concerns and questions. 
“My subcommittee funds every dollar that is spent at HUD.  We have an obligation to the taxpayer to see to it that those dollars are administered without corruption and favoritism.  But we can't do our job if Secretary Jackson refuses to do his," Murray said. "This is a cabinet secretary who has consistently ducked accountability, and arrogantly refused to heed the public's calls for answers. Secretary Jackson should resign immediately and seek to clear his name as a private citizen – if he can.”
The full text of the letter sent today to the President follows:
March 21, 2008
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Mr. President:
We are deeply troubled by the growing number of allegations of impropriety on the part of HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson and the Secretary's refusal to answer appropriate Congressional inquiries on these matters. We call on you to immediately request Secretary Jackson's resignation.
The nation is in the midst of a housing crisis and it is imperative that the Department of Housing and Urban Development be headed by a leader who can work tirelessly to find solutions to the problems plaguing the housing and mortgage markets. Unfortunately, the allegations surrounding Secretary Jackson, as well as his rejection of appropriate Congressional oversight of his Department, undermine his ability to effectively address the current housing crisis. During this critical period, the American people do not need a HUD Secretary that is distracted by the clouds of Justice Department investigations and reports of an empanelled grand jury.   
Despite four separate allegations of impropriety, as well as damning testimony by senior staff to the HUD Inspector General regarding Secretary Jackson inappropriately advising senior staff to take political affiliation into account in awarding contracts, the Secretary refused to answer legitimate Congressional inquiries about his conduct and the use of taxpayer funds at the Department. Last week, in two separate Committee hearings and in a written request, we asked for direct answers from Secretary Jackson regarding his activities in awarding three separate contracts, as well as his involvement in the case of alleged retaliation against the Philadelphia Housing Authority. Secretary Jackson refused to answer our questions, effectively rejecting our oversight role – a role we take seriously.
Given the testimony in the Inspector General report, the repeated allegations of impropriety, and the Secretary's refusal to respond to both the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs and the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, we believe that Secretary Jackson is no longer able to effectively carry out his responsibilities and is unfit to serve as Secretary of HUD.   We call on you to insist on Secretary Jackson's resignation so that the senior leadership of the Department can focus all of its energies on meeting the housing needs of our nation.

Senator Patty Murray

Senator Christopher Dodd