Senator Tells HUD Secretary that Political Message on Contracts was "Grossly Unprofessional"

May 10 2006

Asks the HUD Inspector General to investigate incident

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the ranking Democrat on the Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development and the Judiciary Appropriations Subcommittee (TTHUD), today wrote to Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Alphonso Jackson expressing her outrage at suggestions that receipt of HUD grants and contracts is based on political affiliation.

According to a May 5th article in the Dallas Business Journal which quoted a speech Jackson gave to the Real Estate Executive Council on April 28, 2006, the Secretary allegedly indicated that he had decided to rescind a contract award based on the prospective contractor’s political views.

"It appears that you are quite content to let stand your message that contractors at your agency had better be political supporters of the President if they hope to compete successfully for HUD funds," Murray wrote to Jackson. "That may sit well with your personal political agenda, but it is not behavior consistent with a public servant sworn to uphold the laws of our nation."

Following press coverage of the Dallas incident, a HUD agency press secretary claimed that Secretary Jackson had invented the story. Murray addressed this issue as well.

"Even if your words were not true, they send out a deliberately chilling message to current and future competitors for HUD grants and contracts that 'only Republicans need apply,'" Murray wrote.

Murray also expressed her concern that government contracts be awarded solely based on merit and asked HUD IG Kenneth M. Donohue to investigate this incident in particular, but also overall practices at HUD to ensure that political affiliation is not a factor.

Murray also requested that Donohue investigate whether the Secretary’s public comments suggesting a pattern and practice of political favoritism within HUD constitute a violation of law or regulation.

Read Murray’s letters to Secretary Jackson and IG Donohue.