The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation Chairman Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) is calling on the Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide key current and former officials for testimony at an upcoming hearing on the scandal at their agency.
Earlier this month, HUD’s Inspector General uncovered improper lobbying activity undertaken by now-former HUD Deputy Secretary Maurice Jones and a whole host of other HUD figures. Jones is now newly elected Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Commerce Secretary.
One official, Elliot Mincberg, attempted to withhold information from Congress and the IG and claimed he was doing so at the direction of and in “coordination” with top lawyers from President Obama’s White House.
McHenry, whose request for the IG investigation prompted these discoveries, wrote Thursday to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan that he wants Jones, Mincberg, and the other HUD officials to testify at a forthcoming hearing. McHenry noted that HUD IG David Montoya testified about these abuses by HUD staff on Wednesday and that a thus-far-unscheduled hearing seeks the testimony of HUD’s Jones, Mincberg, Peter Constantine, Jennifer Szubrowski, Francey Youngberg, and Jonathan Harwi.
“In particular, the HUD-IG testified that certain HUD officials failed to comply with Federal law and HUD policies prohibiting lobbying, as well as efforts by certain HUD officials to obstruct the investigation of those matters,” McHenry wrote. “The HUD-IG’s testimony raises troubling questions concerning HUD’s operations. Accordingly, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations intends to hold a hearing to receive the testimony of the individuals whose conduct was described by the HUD-IG at the hearing.”
McHenry gave Donovan until March 5 “to provide dates within the month of March when the above-named individuals are available to testify.”
The alleged White House involvement in obstructing this investigation was buried on page 19 of the report and was first written about by Breitbart News this week.
While criminal charges have not been filed against these Obama administration officials, Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) told Breitbart News that police may need to get involved here. “Like all administration employees, HUD employees need to follow the rules on interacting with Congress and the agency inspector general,” Grassley said in an emailed statement. “If an employee is trying to withhold information from or obstruct an investigation of the inspector general or member of Congress, that’s alarming. The appropriate entities, including law enforcement as necessary, need to get to the bottom of it.”