HUD Secretary Allegedly Intervened for Friend
A recent court filing alleges that U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson intervened in a Philadelphia matter that involved a business friend, The Post's Carol D. Leonnig reports today. It is the latest allegation of favoritism by Jackson, who according to people familiar with the matter is under federal investigation for possible interference in the operations of housing authorities in New Orleans and the Virgin Islands.
The director of the Philadelphia Housing Authority, Carl Greene, contends in an affidavit that Jackson called Philadelphia's mayor in 2006 to demand that the agency transfer a $2 million public property to Kenny Gamble -- a former soul-music songwriter who is a business friend of Jackson's -- at a substantial discount, then retaliated against the housing authority when it refused to do so.
Greene said in an interview that Jackson's aides followed up with "menacing" threats about the property and other housing programs in at least a dozen letters and phone calls over an 11-month period.
Jackson's office said in a written statement that he could not comment on Greene's allegations because they are a subject of litigation.
Ed Pound of the National Journal first reported last fall that the FBI was examining the ties between Jackson and a golfing friend from Hilton Head, S.C., who was paid nearly half a million dollars by Jackson's department as a construction manager in New Orleans. A second article in December reported further details about the New Orleans matter and the federal investigation.
Greene and his colleagues have alleged in the court filing that Philadelphia is now paying a severe price for disobeying a Bush Cabinet official. The Department of Housing and Urban Development recently vowed to strip the city's housing authority of its ability to spend some federal funds, a move that the authority said could raise rents for most of its 84,000 low-income tenants and force the layoffs of 250 people.
The housing authority responded by filing a civil suit in December against HUD and Jackson, in which Greene claimed that the actions by Jackson's department are "retaliatory" and that the Bush administration has exaggerated the troubles it cited as grounds for stripping the funds. Greene said the developer failed to deliver on contracts, leading the housing agency to conclude that the transfer would be improper.
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