Thursday, January 27, 2011

Why, yes, those junkets were a little funny...

What goes around does sometimes come around after all:

As the Minnesota Post notes today, former HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson is among those featured in the new Office of Special Counsel report on Hatch Act violations by top Bush Administration officials. HUD's part of the report is mostly Pages 87-89 as paginated (that is, 93-95 of the PDF). E.g.:
"On October 31, 2006, seven days before the midterm elections, HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson traveled to Connecticut. Upon arrival, the Secretary made a brief stop at a local HUD field office, and then traveled to the district of Connecticut Representative Rob Simmons, considered a “Tier 1” candidate on OPA’s Final Push Matrix. Secretary Jackson spent 45 minutes with Representative Simmons visiting the Welles Country Village Retirement Home and making a grant announcement. Secretary Jackson then traveled across the state to meet with Representative Nancy Johnson, who was also listed on the Final Push Matrix as a “Tier 1” Republican incumbent. The Secretary made a separate grant announcement in Representative Johnson’s district, at the Daughters of Mary of the Immaculate Conception. Both grant announcements were classified as official HUD events.

Both Representative Simmons and Representative Johnson were involved in hotly contested races in 2006..."
(OPA was the White House Office of Political Affairs.)

Funnily enough, I kind of called this one at the time.

In 2006, as a blogger for a trade magazine about the business of subsidized housing, I noted, per HUD press releases and local news reports, that Jackson was making frequent election-season appearances with Republican members of Congress who faced re-election. Several of the people in those old items turn out to be mentioned in this new report.

Here's my Simmons-Johnson item, for example. In this and my other old items, the links that went to HUD press releases at the time are now broken, but current mgmt at HUD have archived those releases here. For example, here's the Johnson appearance.

Another item of mine caught Jackson's October 27, 2006 appearance with Chris Shays of Connecticut, which the new report discusses thusly:
"...OPA’s Suggested Memorandum for HUD indicates that on October 27, 2006, Secretary Jackson attended two events with Representative Shays in Connecticut. HUD documents show that on that date, Secretary Jackson went to a “political reception” and luncheon with Representative Shays. As late as March 11, 2009, however, HUD acknowledged that the Shays campaign owed an outstanding balance of $232.30 because the agency previously had miscalculated the political portion of the Secretary’s trip. To date, HUD has not produced any evidence showing that it has sought or received reimbursement for the outstanding costs. Again, failure to obtain timely reimbursement violates the Hatch Act."
My items from that time also note Jackson made fall 2006 appearances with Heather Wilson of New Mexico, Geoff Davis of Kentucky and Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. These names turn up elsewhere in the new report, though not in connection with Jackson. Part of the HUD archive still has thumbnails of the Davis and Santorum appearances -- they're at the top of this post. [OK, to be fair, the thumbnails aren't dated but they're probably the appearances in question.]

Of course, it's always easy to deplore the acts of a previous administration, and the current one is probably piling up its own offenses to be unearthed later. Nevertheless, this report makes a good official bookend to the atmosphere of impunity in which Bush officials politicized the agencies.

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