Via our good friends at OMB Watch comes a copy of a letter sent by Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Barney Frank, D-Mass., to HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson, attempting to get to the bottom of the alternately fallacious or anecdotal account of his turning down a well qualified contractor who made a negative comment about President Bush. Messrs. Waxman and Frank write in part:
A competitive procurement process should provide the best value for the taxpayer and be free of extraneous political influence.
In your case, however, the “wall” that should exist between procurement decisions and political considerations was apparently nonexistent. If the news account is accurate, you explicitly admitted to barring a contractor who “made a heck of a proposal” when you learned that he did not support President Bush. Your statements imply that you view government contracts as “rewards” to be doled out to political supporters.
The letter (the whole thing is attached below as a PDF) goes on to request “all documents related to the advertising contract” that Jackson described in his speech, and all documents relating to any other contract that Jackson “personally reviewed, approved” or was involved with.
It will be interesting to see if any Republicans get on board, as they clearly should. A cabinet secretary who publicly admits that he’s using political criteria to award contracts should spur even the see-no-evil majority party into asking at least a question or two, no? This wouldn’t be a bad time to exercise their Article I oversight prerogatives…