WASHINGTON -- Two Democratic senators said Friday that Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson, buffeted by allegations of cronyism and favoritism, should resign.
Sens. Patty Murray of Washington state and Christopher Dodd of Connecticut said that Jackson's problems represented a "worsening distraction" at HUD at a time when the nation needs a credible housing secretary who is beyond suspicion.
"It is time for Secretary Jackson to go," Murray said.
Murray chairs a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on housing, while Dodd is chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. The pair sent a letter to President Bush urging him to request Jackson's resignation.
Jackson has refused to answer questions about his role in a Philadelphia redevelopment deal. The city's housing authority has filed a lawsuit charging that Jackson tried to punish the agency for nixing a deal involving music-producer-turned-developer Kenny Gamble, a friend of Jackson.
At a subcommittee hearing last week, Murray repeatedly asked Jackson about the Philadelphia deal and other allegations of wrongdoing, including an investigation by HUD's inspector general that was triggered by Jackson's boast that he once revoked a contract because an applicant said he did not like Bush.
The inspector general, after a four-month inquiry, turned up no evidence of a canceled contract. But the report found what it called "some problematic instances" involving HUD contracts and grants, including Jackson's opposition to money for a contractor whose executives donated exclusively to Democratic candidates.
Murray said she offered Jackson a chance to "debunk any misunderstandings and clear his name." Instead, "Jackson stubbornly refused to provide the answers the American public deserves," she said.
Imagine that. Jackson decided to not respond to questions from lawmakers and, well, basically decided that he didn't need to comply with oversight.
I'd sure like to be around when a Democrat tries that in front of a Republican-controlled committee one day. Sadly, the way things are going, it might be 2075 before the Republicans ever control Congress again.