Tuesday, May 09, 2006

HUD withholds contract over anti-Bush statement

In an example of politics intruding where it shouldn't, HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson told a Dallas audience that he canceled a contract after the contractor told him that he didn't like Bush.

"He had made every effort to get a contract with HUD for 10 years," Jackson said of the prospective contractor. "He made a heck of a proposal and was on the (General Services Administration) list, so we selected him. He came to see me and thank me for selecting him. Then he said something ... he said, 'I have a problem with your president.'

"I said, 'What do you mean?' He said, 'I don't like President Bush.' I thought to myself, 'Brother, you have a disconnect -- the president is elected, I was selected. You wouldn't be getting the contract unless I was sitting here. If you have a problem with the president, don't tell the secretary.'

"He didn't get the contract," Jackson continued. "Why should I reward someone who doesn't like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president? Logic says they don't get the contract. That's the way I believe."

To quote Mary Scott Nabers, a government-contracting consultant in Austin who was asked about the case, "Oh, my goodness gracious."

As you might imagine, several observers have pointed out that Jackson's decision is repulsive. Why should he reward the contractor? Because the contractor could provide the best service for the money, that's why. Jackson is elevating politics above his fiduciary and ethical duty to taxpayers.

But it's not just repulsive; it's probably illegal.

Wonkette has some less-than-balanced background on Jackson; make of it what you will. Meanwhile, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D.-N.J., has called on Jackson to resign.

Nothing yet from the White House.

Jackson should get a chance to explain. If he broke the law, resignation seems the proper sanction. At the very least I'd say that contractor has grounds for a lawsuit.

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