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If allegations of favoritism, interference are true, we expect swift punishment

February 23, 2008
Federal Housing Secretary Alphonso Jackson has been accused several times of using his agency for political purposes and interfering improperly in local housing projects in several locations. If the allegations are true, Jackson should be fired — then prosecuted.

Investigators with the Housing and Urban Development department’s inspector general’s office have been looking into complaints that HUD engaged in acts of favoritism and improper interference with local programs. Local housing authorities in New Orleans and the Virgin Islands are involved in those allegations.

Now, Jackson is being accused in a lawsuit filed by the Philadelphia Housing Authority. Officials there say that Jackson, both personally and through aides, pressured the authority to transfer a $2 million property to a developer, at a discount. The developer happens to be a personal friend of Jackson’s. When the authority balked, Jackson used HUD to retaliate against it, according to the lawsuit.

Use of federal agencies and taxpayers’ money for personal and political ends is not, sad to say, uncommon in American history. That doesn’t change the fact that it is wrong.

The Philadelphia lawsuit may well add fuel to the fire of the inspector general’s investigation. No one is speculating as to how long it will take for that probe to be concluded. With only about a year left in the administration of President Bush, Jackson’s days at HUD are numbered, in any event. Still, if the investigation finds evidence of wrongdoing, he should be fired — and, again, prosecuted.


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