HUD Chief Quitting, Cites Family Reasons

Ad Feedback - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson announced his decision to resign Monday effective April 18.

Jackson, who is under criminal investigation, has been fending off allegations of cronyism and favoritism involving HUD contractors for the past two years.

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 after Hurricane Katrina.

Jackson made no mention of the investigation in his statement of resignation saying only, "There comes a time when one must attend more diligently to personal and family matters. Now is such a time for me."

The White House said President Bush supports Jackson and that Jackson "expects that the investigation will clearly establish that he did nothing improper or unethical."

"I have known Alphonso Jackson for many years, and I have known him to be a strong leader and a good man," Bush said in a prepared statement released by the White House. 

Democratic Senator Patty Murray seemed unimpressed with Jackson's decision to quit saying it  "means little to the millions of homeowners struggling to stay above water. What they care about most is meaningful action from an administration that so far has responded to Wall Street but not to Main Street."

In another controversy, the housing authority in Philadelphia has filed a lawsuit alleging that Jackson tried to punish the agency for nixing a deal involving a friend of his. At a congressional hearing this month, Jackson refused to answer questions about the Philadelphia redevelopment deal.

Last year, the inspector general at Jackson's department found "problematic instances" involving HUD contracts and grants, including Jackson's opposition to money for a contractor whose executives donated exclusively to Democratic candidates.

The HUD IG found that Jackson blocked the money "for a significant period of time." Jackson blamed his own aides for the delay.

In 2006, Jackson triggered the IG inquiry when he said publicly that he revoked a contract because the applicant who thanked him said he did not like Bush.

Jackson later told the IG's investigators that "I lied" when he made the remark about taking back the contract.

Source: The Associated Press

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