Group also Credits Secretary Carson for Constructive Steps to Reverse Agency’s Previous Stonewalling
— PRESS RELEASE —
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAY 22, 2017
Press Contact: Bill Murphy, 610-529-6494, bill@GoodGovernmentNow.org
May 22, 2017 – Good Government Now has launched a petition urging the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to fully comply with all requests of congressional investigators who have been probing illegal payments made by HUD to two department officials. The petition is available at www.GoodGovernmentNow.org.
The payments violate Section 713 of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act of 2012 which prohibits the use of appropriations for salary payments to federal employees who obstruct congressional investigations. HUD has failed to provide requested documents and to recover these improper payments as required by law in defiance of Congress for almost a year now. Three congressional oversight committees and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have found that the HUD officials who received the payments had obstructed an inquiry into improprieties in HUD’s handling of a housing fraud lawsuit against the city of Saint Paul, MN.
Good Government Now President Dr. William J. Murphy said, “We urge all Americans to read and sign the petition at www.GoodGovernmentNow.com calling for appropriate resolution of HUD’s misconduct. HUD must produce all documents requested by congressional investigators and recover all funds unlawfully paid to the officials who obstructed the Saint Paul inquiry. We must insist that the federal government is accountable to the people through our elected representatives. This isn’t possible when federal officials defy Congress by refusing to provide information requested in investigations of illegal conduct in the executive branch.”
“HUD’s prior conduct undermined the rule of law by obstructing Congress, violating the rights of citizens seeking justice in the courts, deterring whistleblowers, and depriving low-income residents of needed opportunities, all of which are unacceptable. HUD’s improper handling of the Saint Paul fraud litigation also heaped unnecessary burdens of corruption on taxpayers,” Murphy related.
The city of Saint Paul made false certifications on HUD community development grant applications in a scheme that fraudulently channeled $62 million into the city’s coffers. Congressional investigators found that HUD inappropriately forfeited an opportunity to reclaim $200 million for taxpayers by dropping its support for a lawsuit against the city for political reasons.
“We are pleased to see the constructive steps initiated by HUD Secretary Ben Carson and President Trump to reverse the department’s previous policy of refusing to cooperate appropriately with Congress. HUD’s recent scheduling of a long-overdue briefing and indication that it has begun working on the document request are positive developments that offer hope for an appropriate resolution. We believe this opening makes the active engagement of citizens at this moment critical to producing a favorable result,” Murphy concluded.