Friday, April 18, 2008

The Spin

Last month, I posted on the woes of HUD Secretary Alfonso Jackson. Under investigation for allegedly steering contracts to his cronies, Mr. Jackson ultimately resigned. Today is his last day on the job, and to mark the occasion, the NY Times has an article which describes some of the friends who received those contracts and their relationship to the Housing Secretary.

Mr. Jackson, who announced his resignation in March, leaves office on Friday as federal authorities continue to investigate whether he enriched himself and friends with lucrative contracts. The inquiry has also laid bare the connections between Mr. Jackson, who was determined to expand opportunities for minority contractors, and the ambitious men who benefited from those opportunities.

It is the story of a small circle of black businessmen linked by their financial interests in the revitalization of troubled public housing and, in most cases, a shared affinity for conservative politics, and how those connections may have helped force the housing secretary from public life.
[Emphasis added]

So, now we know what the spin will be: this whole racist investigation is about shutting down affirmative action in awarding HUD contracts.

Say, what?

No, that is apparently how the Secretary and the beneficiaries of his largess will defend themselves:

In 2003, the year before Mr. Jackson was named secretary, 14 percent — or $134 million — of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s contracts went to black-owned firms, officials say. By 2007, black-owned businesses were receiving 25 percent of the department’s contracts, or $195.6 million.

Indeed, some of Mr. Jackson’s supporters deride the scrutiny of his casual friendships as a racist effort to undermine a prominent black official and several respected black businessmen, noting that no one has been charged with a crime.

That African American businesses are finally getting a shot at government contracts is a good thing, as I think most of us will agree. That only businesses owned by Republicans who socialize with Mr. Jackson (or who previously employed him) are getting the bulk of those contracts is not such a good thing. It's called cronyism, one of the hallmarks of this rapacious administration.

271 days.

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