House subcommittee to hold hearing on alleged HUD lobbying violations

HUDThe House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing on Feb. 26 regarding allegations of improper appropriations lobbying at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

HUD Inspector General David Montoya will testify before the subcommittee at the hearing, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Rayburn House Office Building, on his office’s investigation into potential federal lobbying violations by HUD, as well as alleged efforts by HUD officials to obstruct the investigation.

According to an HFSC memorandum, HUD Deputy Secretary Maurice Jones allegedly sent an email to “friends and colleagues” in July urging them to contact senators and encourage them to vote in favor of a motion to advance consideration of an appropriations bill for Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies.

Subcommittee Chairman Patrick McHenry requested last year that HUD-OIG investigate for potential federal violations. The OIG presented its report earlier this month, finding that Jones and other HUD officials “acted improperly in the manner in which they lobbied for the passage of THUD.”

The OIG report also found that certain HUD officials had allegedly “acted to obstruct the investigation and conceal their improper activities.”

The memorandum said Jones allegedly urged email recipients to oppose certain amendments to the bill and suggested they encourage Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Jeffrey Chiesa (R-N.J.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Dean Heller (R-Nev.); Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), John Thune (R-S.D.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) to support final passage of the legislation.

“It is critical that your Senator hears from you NOW,” the email from Jones said. “Specifically, we need to maintain the current level of Republican support for the Senate THUD FY14 appropriations bill, acquire other Republican supporters and ensure vocal and active support from Democratic Senators.”

The memorandum said the “directness and specificity” of the email “appeared to violate well-established federal restrictions on lobbying by federal agencies,” including appropriations restrictions under the 2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act.

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