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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    May 2005
    Heart of Dixie

    Obama Appointees Must Repay Salaries After Enabling Fraud

    Obama Appointees Must Repay Salaries After Enabling Fraud

    Investigative Reporter
    12:04 AM 04/07/2016

    U.S. President Barack Obama announces that San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro (R) will be his choice as the new Secretary of HUD, in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington May 23, 2014. REUTERS/Larry Downing

    A federal agency will be breaking the law unless two of its top Obama administration appointees repay part of their salaries to taxpayers after barring another federal employee from telling Congress how higher-ups were allowing multi-million dollar frauds as part of a political deal.

    The Government Accountability Office (GAO) determined Tuesday that the two Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) political appointees refused to let an employee speak with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform about a major scandal.

    The nonpartisan watchdog agency cited a federal law barring the use of taxpayer dollars to pay executive branch officials to obstruct Congress:
    No part of any appropriation contained in this or any other act shall be available for the payment of the salary of any officer or employee of the federal government, who … prohibits or prevents, or attempts or threatens to prohibit or prevent, any other officer or employee of the federal government from having any direct oral or written communication or contact with any Member, committee, or subcommittee of the Congress.

    The GAO said that unless HUD’s associate general counsel and a deputy assistant secretary personally return three weeks’ worth of compensation, the department would be knowingly retaining “improper payments” on its books in violation of the law.

    The oversight panel, in 2012, was uncovering the fact that then-Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez made a secret deal to make a potentially damaging lawsuit go away. He reportedly told the litigant that in exchange for dropping the suit, the government would look the other way on fraud the litigant was doing in an unrelated matter, which was being investigated by HUD.

    In October 2012, the committee, then led by California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa 
    , requested to interview the two officials plus the department’s general counsel and a regional director of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.But HUD sent only the top political appointees to speak, and they “were unable to answer several basic factual questions about the timeline of events and actions of HUD officials,” because they were substantially higher in management than the specialized employees actually involved.

    HUD still refused to allow Congress to speak to the regional director six months later, despite repeated requests, so the committee issued a subpoena.

    The regional director then said he had wanted to talk with Congress, but HUD’s legal office told him to stop responding to the committee.

    HUD’s general counsel and deputy assistant secretary claimed it was “not normal” for Congress to interview high-ranking career bureaucrats who manage day-to-day operations and have institutional knowledge. Congress should instead talk only to political appointees who typically serve short stints in federal agencies, the officials said.

    They seemed to believe HUD should decide which congressional investigations into major misconduct were legitimate and which to ignore.

    “We do not believe the committee has shown a particularized need for the additional interviews,” they wrote.

    GAO quoted guidance noting that “federal employees are often the source of information about agency operations suppressed by their superiors [s]ince they are much closer to the actual working situation than top agency officials.”

    Since HUD refused to let Congress speak with the official for six months, the salary amounts involved could have been substantial. The department claimed for those months that it was too busy with more important matters than deal with Congress. Sometimes, HUD officials didn’t even reply to congressional inquiries at all.

    But they will save some money thanks to a pedantic argument that for most of the time, their delays and denials could be construed in “good faith,” whereas for a three-week period they were outright refusing in bad faith.

    The GAO said during a period in April “the communications demonstrate that the delay became a denial to make the Regional Director available for interview.”

    The GAO opinion that endless vague reasons for delay are tantamount to refusal is a warning to numerous agencies that increasingly use this approach with Congress.DoYou Think The Federal Government Under Obama Is More Or Less Corrupt Than Under

    Sen. Charles Grassley
    , an Iowa Republican, said in a statement that the nonpartisan report confirms that “tens of millions of tax dollars [were] potentially lost to fraud and then [officials] obstructed a federal employee from talking to Congress about it … The GAO opinion is a significant step forward in holding the Obama Administration accountable for trying to thwart oversight and to deter agencies from trying to deny a witness the opportunity to communicate directly with Congress in the future.”Despite the ruling, the appointees, whose names HUD refused to make public, are unlikely to repay their salaries anytime soon.

    A HUD spokesman told The Daily Caller News Foundation that the department is “weighing a request that GAO reconsider its opinion of this 2013 case. The new opinion of the Government Accountability Office is a reversal of its earlier, 2014, opinion that concluded there was no violation of appropriations requirements.”

    GAO said that evidence was withheld from it prior to the previous report and that new evidence makes the situation unambiguous.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Jan 2012
    Castro also lied...
    Did Julian Castro lie to Congress on HUD racial zoning rule?

    By Robert Romano'

    “This is not about changing zoning laws, planning laws — anything like that.”

    That was Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro before the House Financial Services Committee under questioning by Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah), assuring members that an imminent rulemaking, “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing,” will not interfere with local zoning decisions.

    Yet, that is precisely what the rule does, according to the Federal Register, directing program participants including municipalities “to examine relevant factors, such as zoning and other land-use practices that are likely contributors to fair housing concerns, and take appropriate actions in response.”

    Including changing zoning practices thought to be contributing to segregation.

    Rep. Love noted, who once served as mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, appealed to Castro, who was once mayor of San Antonio, Texas, saying, “I know that as a mayor you wouldn’t want the federal government coming in to tell you what to do with your zoning laws and with your rules because you have more skin in the game. You have more of an incentive to take care of the people that live in your areas. You’re the boots on the ground.”

    The rule interferes with zoning by conditioning eligibility for community development block grants upon compliance with the rule — which on its face will require redrawing zoning maps to achieve racial and income integration when a municipality is not in compliance. In 2012, HUD dispersed about $3.8 billion of these grants to almost 1,200 municipalities.

    HUD has also proposed the “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Assessment Tool” “for use by each program participant to evaluate fair housing choice in its jurisdiction, to identify barriers to fair housing choice at the local and regional levels, and to set and prioritize fair housing goals to overcome such barriers and advance fair housing choice.”

    In preparation for implementing the regulation, HUD has released template racial rezoning maps and data tables to be used in each community development block grant recipient area.

    The tool’s worksheet orders the assessing bureaucrat using the maps and data to “identify neighborhoods or areas in the jurisdiction and region where racial/ethnic groups are segregated and indicate the predominant groups for each.”

    Additionally, the bureaucrat must identify the extent the following factors “contribut[e] to segregated housing patterns” including “Land use and zoning laws, such as minimum lot sizes, limits on multi-unit properties, height limits, or bedroom-number limits as well as requirements for special use permits; Occupancy restrictions; Residential real estate steering; Patterns of community opposition; Economic pressures, such as increased rents or land and development costs; Major private investments; Municipal or State services and amenities; and Foreclosure patterns.”
    Julian Castro simply did not tell the truth about how “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” will impact local zoning decisions. Rep. Love deserves credit for exposing what amounts to a cover-up by the HUD Secretary.

    All of which vindicates the House of Representatives’ June 9 229-193 vote in favor of an amendment to the Transportation and HUD appropriations bill by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) defunding implementation of the rule, which Rep. Love voted for.

    The legislation now moves to the Senate, where last year Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) offered the same amendment.

    In the meantime, for those communities considering taking community development block grants this year — Julian Castro’s testimony to the contrary notwithstanding — just know that that federal money comes with an eraser aimed directly at your community’s zoning plans.

    2 past articles - his family are LaRaza supporters - how did congress OK his HUD position? Perez is now Sect'y of Labor - why is O allowed to appoint mostly hispanics and blacks to positions? He would like to appoint muslims too but it is still too early for that acceptance.
    Last edited by artist; 04-08-2016 at 12:40 PM.
    Newmexican likes this.

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