Housing Secretary Resigns Amid Criticism

Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Alphonso Jackson announced today that he will step down from HUD April 18. Senate Democrats had called for his resignation last week amid allegations of corruption.

The Hill's Jessica Holzer reported that Banking Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Appropriations Housing Subcommittee Chairwoman Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) called for Jackson's resignation, saying he failed to clear suspicions of impropriety when appearing before their panels.

Jackson had come under fire recently for alleged corruption, as The Washington Post reported in February that Jackson demanded the Philadelphia Housing Authority transfer a $2 million public property at a discount to a friend of his, and then vowed to strip the authority of some federal funding after it refused.

An Inspector General's report also found in 2006 that Jackson urged housing officials to take contractors' politics into account when awarding grants and contracts. According to The Dallas Morning News, the investigation began after Jackson boasted in a speech in Dallas that he had canceled a deal because a contractor disparaged President Bush. The investigation found no direct evidence that political favoritism motivated any of HUD's dealings.

"During my time here, I have sought to make America a better place to live, work and raise a family," Jackson said in a statement. "We have helped families keep their homes. We have transformed public housing. We have reduced chronic homelessness. And, we have preserved affordable housing and increased minority homeownership."

Reacting publicly to Jackson's resignation, President Bush complimented Jackson on his time at HUD. "While leading the Department of Housing and Urban Development," Bush said, "Alphonso made significant progress in transforming public housing, revitalizing and modernizing the Federal Housing Administration, increasing affordable housing, rebuilding the Gulf Coast, decreasing homelessness, and increasing minority homeownership."

Hillary Clinton said that Jackson's resignation "ends a tenure at HUD marked by an indifference to Congressional oversight powers, cronyism, and corrupt contracting practices that have no place in our government." Neither Barack Obama nor John McCain had issued a statement by the time this was posted.