HUD-OIG testifes on alleged inappropriate lobbying by HUD officials

Housing and Urban Development Inspector General David Montoya told a House committee on Wednesday that the office’s report revealed that actions by senior HUD officials “display the appearance of impropriety and of ethical regressions.”

According to the OIG’s report, senior HUD officials allegedly engaged in appropriations lobbying that violated federal statutes and attempted to obstruct the office’s investigation of the matter.

The report revealed that former HUD Deputy Secretary Maurice Jones allegedly sent an email to “friends and colleagues” urging them to contact senators before a key vote on the department’s annual spending bill.

Montoya said the email was sent to organizations and members that receive HUD funding.

“Such organizations are generally prohibited from using federal funds to carry out certain lobbying activities,” Montoya said. “This email asked these individuals to engage in activities that could violate federal law if federal funds were used to carry them out. Particularly noteworthy was the fact that one of the recipients, a large public housing authority, had recently been found by HUD-OIG to have violated federal requirements by using federal funds to carry out lobbying activities.”

Additionally, the report revealed that Elliot Mincberg, the acting general deputy assistant secretary at HUD, allegedly “took steps to interfere with” and “attempted to obstruct” the investigation.

Mincberg also allegedly threatened investigators and told them he “had coordinated with White House Counsel” because he did not HUD’s lobbying activities to be revealed to “Republicans on the congressional committee.”

“The misuse of taxpayer resources for blatant political lobbying uncovered in this report is simply unacceptable,” House Financial Services Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) said. “Even more troubling, however, are the revelations of agency leaders attempting to cover it up by obstructing an Inspector General investigation.”

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