Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Alphonso Jackson has been in hot water over comments he made in late April in which he suggested that he cancelled a federal contract because the recipient stated that he didn't like President George W. Bush. Now Jackson is claiming that he made the story up and the spokesperson who originally talked to the press has gone on leave. SourceWatch and Congresspedia have the goods on Jackson's ever-changing story and the members of Congress calling for his investigation and resignation (for the full story, sources and quotes, visit Jackson's profile page):
April 28th: Jackson gave a speech in Dallas in which he told a story about a contractor who made "a heck of a proposal... so we selected him." However, after Jackson said the man told him, "I don’t like President Bush," the man "didn't get the contract." Jackson explains his philosophy: "Why should I reward someone who doesn't like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president? Logic says they don't get the contract. That's the way I believe." However, Jackson may not have been aware that denying a contract based on political affiliation or opinions is a possible violation of the Competition in Contracting Act.
May 3: A Jackson spokesperson, Dustee Tucker, told reporters that the contract Jackson was referring to in Dallas was "an advertising contract with a minority publication."
May 5: The Dallas Business Journal printed their story on the speech.
May 9: Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said that bringing such political considerations into federal contracting was possibly illegal and requested all documents related to the contract mentioned in the speech or any other contract Jackson was involved in. The same day, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) called on President George W. Bush to ask for Jackson's immediate resignation.
After making an initial comment about the contractor approaching Jackson "in a very aggressive way," Jackson spokesperson Tucker later on May 9 claimed that the story was purely "anecdotal" and that "he was merely trying to explain to the audience how people in D.C., will say critical things about the secretary, will unfairly characterize the president and then turn around and ask you for money... He did not actually meet with someone and turn down a contract. He's not part of the contracting process."
May 10: When ThinkProgress bloggers tried to reach Tucker for further comment they were told that she was on "scheduled leave" and was not available for comment.
Whatever happened to Ms. Tucker, SourceWatch is keeping track of Alphonso Jackson and the Congresspedia articles on Reps. Barney Frank, Rep. Henry Waxman and Sen. Frank Lautenberg now reflect their involvement. The word in DC is that there's more dirt on Jackson (he's also a Bush "Pioneer" fundraiser), so we'll be watching him and how Congress responds to this controversy here at Congresspedia.