- Argentina beats Dutch in shootout to reach World Cup final
- Tanard Jackson suspended indefinitely by NFL — again
- FAA investigating fireworks drone flights
- Pentagon: We’ll give Obama a drone strike with al-Baghdadi’s name on it
- Marine in Mexican custody to get day in court after 101 days
- Senate OKs San Antonio mayor as housing secretary
- NFL star likely fooled by Marine impostor who accepted first-class plane ticket
- Sen. Ted Cruz tweets Obama directions from fundraisers to border towns
- Israel hits key Hamas targets in Gaza offensive
- Ten-year sentence for New Orleans’ Nagin on graft charges
Federal probe finds McAuliffe’s commerce secretary improperly lobbied Congress
Question of the Day
Mr. Jones, who was a deputy secretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, sent an email to more than 1,000 recipients — including 46 people at HUD — asking them to contact senators to “defend against efforts by some Republicans” to prevent a housing bill to come up for a vote, according to the internal probe. The message also asked “friends and supporters” to tell senators to vote “no” on another amendment.
A months-long investigation by the HUD’s office of inspector general concluded that Mr. Jones and four others at HUD appear to have violated anti-lobbying laws, which restrict the use of funds for publicity or propaganda directed at pending legislation before Congress. The probe also concluded that Mr. Jones violated internal HUD policy on lobbying by federal employees.
Mr. Jones told investigators that he didn’t know about HUD’s policy prohibiting lobbying on pending legislation, according to a draft of the inspector general’s report expected to be released this week.
“[Deputy secretary] stated that it was articulated to him that ‘I could do things that others could not,’” investigators wrote in the report obtained by The Washington Times.
The Justice Department declined to open a criminal investigation into Mr. Jones, but the inspector general report said officials have referred their findings to the office of special counsel, which enforces federal laws that prohibit an official from coercing employees’ political activities. The Government Accountability Office also is conducting a review.
Phone and email messages to Mr. Jones and the Virginia Department of Commerce and Trade were not returned Monday.
A spokesman for HUD said officials are reviewing the inspector general’s findings.
“We take the issues raised in the report very seriously,” HUD spokesman Jereon Brown said. “We will continue to cooperate with ongoing investigations and will have no further comment while this matter and the report remains under review and cannot comment on personnel matters.”
The probe began after a request from Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, North Carolina Republican and chairman of the investigative subcommittee of the House Committee on Financial Services. He said the “directness and the specificity” of the email from Mr. Jones appeared to violate federal restrictions on lobbying by federal agencies.
Mr. McHenry’s panel will hold a hearing on the internal investigation Wednesday. In a letter last year to Mr. McHenry, HUD Secretary Shaun L.S. Donovan said the department had reviewed its guidance and ethics training.
The inspector general’s report singled out several other HUD employees, including Elliot Mincberg, acting general deputy assistant secretary. The inspector general found that he tried to interfere with the internal investigation by “interrupting and inserting himself into an ongoing witness interview.” He also threatened agents that he would ensure they were charged as a result of “inappropriate actions,” which he did not identify to investigators, the report said.
Mr. Mincberg told investigators that HUD had to protect the list of email recipients who received Mr. Jones‘ message, according to the report. Mr. Mincberg said his office had coordinated with “White House counsel,” and he asked the inspector general’s office for assurances that the information wouldn’t be turned over to congressional Republicans, the report says.
Mr. Mincberg was not immediately available for comment late Monday.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Jim McElhatton is an investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
- Purchases of Obama books wane, except at State Department
- Iraq logistics contract goes on years after withdrawal
- VA workplace complaints highlight retaliation
- Immigration agents accused of database abuse; cartels make corruption easy
- Murder convict says missing tape would prove his innocence
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
It's yet another example of his lack of transparency
- GOP: Lerner warned IRS employees to hide information from Congress
- White House plans for bowling alley upgrades abruptly cancelled
- ISTOOK: Flying illegals home would be 99.5 percent cheaper than Obamas plan
- Obama requests $3.7 billion to fight surge of illegals
- Power grab: EPA wants to garnish wages of polluters
- Costco to re-stock Dinesh D'Souza's 'America' after public outry
- Illegal immigrants showing up at border with 'Yes we can' Obama shoes: report
- CARSON: Health savings accounts far better than Obamacare
- Facebook allows 'Kill Kendall Jones' page, but deletes her game hunting photos
- Dinesh D'Souza book yanked from Costco shelves
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq
World Cup's sexiest WAGs
U.S.-Ghana World Cup opener