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[Washington Babylon]

Bush Investigations Overload

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Under normal circumstances, a criminal investigation of a Cabinet Secretary would be a big deal. But with all the political scandals now swirling about, there’s been virtually no media attention of the investigation into Housing Secretary Alphonso Jackson.

Fortunately, there’s this terrific recent piece by Ed Pound in National Journal:

In February 2004, a lobbyist named Scott Keller joined Housing Secretary Alphonso Jackson as his deputy chief of staff. Over the next three years, Keller became Jackson’s indispensable man — his “right arm,” insiders say — at the Housing and Urban Development Department. In January, President Bush nominated Keller to be HUD’s assistant secretary for congressional and intergovernmental relations. But his nomination languished in the Senate, and Keller resigned from the department in August.

Keller, 37, resumed his lobbying career and says he left HUD under his own steam to provide for his family. But at the same time, sources say, the former Jackson aide has emerged in recent months as a central figure in the government’s criminal investigation of the HUD secretary. In one instance, Keller played an important role in a decision by the Housing Authority of New Orleans, or HANO, which is controlled by HUD, to award a $127 million redevelopment project to a team that included an Atlanta company, Columbia Residential. That firm has significant financial ties to Jackson: It owes him between $250,000 and $500,000 “for past services,” according to the HUD secretary’s public financial disclosure reports.

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