WASHINGTON (AP) — HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson, his tenure tarnished by allegations of political favoritism and a criminal investigation, announced his resignation Monday amid the wreckage of the national housing crisis. He leaves behind a trail of unanswered questions about whether he tilted the Department of Housing and Urban Development toward Republican contractors and cronies.
In announcing that his last day at HUD will be April 18, Jackson said only, “There comes a time when one must attend more diligently to personal and family matters.”
What is it with these Rethuglican families that so many people have to quit their jobs in order to spend so much time with them?
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton said that while Jackson’s resignation is “appropriate, it does nothing to address the Bush administration’s wait-and-don’t-see posture to our nation’s housing crisis.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said HUD will be called on to work with Congress on assisting refinancing for borrowers faced with imminent foreclosure.
The ethical allegations against Jackson “meant that the Bush administration’s ineffective housing policies were being burdened by an even more ineffective HUD Secretary,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said after Jackson’s announcement.
President Bush called Jackson “a strong leader and a good man.” Ties between the two men go back to the 1980s when they lived in the same Dallas neighborhood. It was Jackson’s personal ties to Bush that brought him to Washington, where he displayed a forceful personal style at HUD for seven years, first as the agency’s No. 2 official and since 2004 in the top slot.
Asked about the problems with subprime mortgages last June, Jackson insisted that many such borrowers were not unsophisticated, low-income people but what he called “Yuppies, Buppies and Guppies” — well-educated, young, black and gay upwardly mobile achievers — with expensive cars who bought $400,000 homes with little or no money down.
The FBI has been examining the ties between Jackson and a friend who was paid $392,000 by Jackson’s department as a construction manager in New Orleans. Jackson’s friend got the job after Jackson asked a staff member to pass along his name to the Housing Authority of New Orleans.
In another instance of alleged favoritism that came to light in February, the Philadelphia housing authority alleges that Jackson retaliated against the agency because it refused to award a vacant lot worth $2 million to soul-music producer-turned-community developer Kenny Gamble for redevelopment of a public housing complex.
Jackson’s problems began in 2006, when he told a group of commercial real estate executives that he had revoked a contract because the applicant who thanked him said he did not like President Bush. Jackson later told investigators “I lied” when he made the remark about taking back the contract.
In [an HUD Inspector General] probe, some of Jackson’s own aides contradicted his account of one incident in which investigators found the HUD secretary had blocked a contract for several months to one heavily Democratic donor. Jackson blamed his aides for the delay in the award.
Heckuva job, Alphonso!!