The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing on February 4 entitled “Exploring Alleged Ethical and Legal Violations at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.” The hearing focused on improper hiring practices of senior HUD officials, conflicts of interest, and lobbying activities.
Opening the hearing, Subcommittee Chair Sean Duffy (R-WI) stated, “I want to make clear that we’re not here to debate the importance of HUD, the importance of its mission or the work that they do. Millions of Americans who have fallen on hard times—veterans, single mothers, their children—they all rely on HUD’s programs and we should all recognize and applaud their efforts. They already work with limited resources that shouldn’t be diverted to illegal lobbying or overpaying lobbyists.”
In his testimony, HUD Inspector General David Montoya discussed the conflict of interest that arose when HUD hired the deputy director of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities (CLPHA) to serve as the deputy assistant director of the Public and Indian Housing (PIH) policy making division that is responsible for developing regulations that govern the public housing agencies (PHAs) that CLPHA represents. He said, “In essence, HUD appointed someone who represented the regulated to be in charge of developing the regulations.” He stated that once the CLPHA deputy director was inside HUD, she attempted to deregulate public housing agency reporting requirements and to loosen oversight over PIH programs to align with the agenda set forth by CLPHA and similar industry groups.
Mr. Montoya also cited a recent report by his office that determined that HUD lacked adequate oversight to ensure that PHAs comply with federal lobbying disclosure requirements and restrictions. Of the twelve PHAs reported to have engaged in federal lobbying activities, nine spent $2.5 million on lobbying activities that they failed to report as required.
You can watch the hearing here: http://financialservices.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=398655
The HUD Inspector General Report is at http://www.hudoig.gov/reports-publications/audit-reports/hud-lacked-adequate-oversight-ensure-public-housing-agencies