ALPHONSO JACKSON UPDATE….Remember Alphonso Jackson? He’s the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and a few months ago he gave a speech in which he bragged about pulling a federal contract from a vendor who made a critical remark about George Bush.

Jackson later said it was all a big mistake. He was just shooting his mouth off and the incident never happened. Still, HUD’s inspector general decided to investigate, and the Dallas Morning News has seen a copy of the IG’s report. Apparently Jackson has been shooting his mouth off a lot:

In an initial interview on May 17, for instance, HUD Chief of Staff Camille Pierce said there was no political litmus test and she never heard Mr. Jackson express sentiments akin to those he expressed in his Dallas speech.

….In a follow-up interview on June 8, investigators confronted her with testimony from Cathy MacFarlane, who resigned that month as HUD’s assistant secretary for public affairs. Ms. MacFarlane told investigators that at a senior staff meeting, Mr. Jackson “made a statement to the effect that it was important to consider presidential supporters when you are considering the selected candidates for discretionary contracts.”

And Ms. MacFarlane told investigators, “I think it was a political [appointee] talking to a political, saying if all things are equal, you’re giving out a contract, give it out to the family, you know.”

The testimony stirred Ms. Pierce’s memory. “He did say that he did not want contracts awarded ? he did say something about political groups, maybe to Democrats or something like that,” she said in the follow-up interview, though she added that “if I had thought he was serious, I would have gone in and said, sir, that’s ridiculous.”

….Roy Bernardi, the No. 2 official at HUD and a former mayor of Syracuse, N.Y., also testified that he recalled Mr. Jackson’s statement at the staff meeting.

Italics mine. Jackson is claiming the report exonerates him because no one can prove that any federal contracts were ever handed out based on political affiliation. They just talked about it. And, you know, they were just joshing anyway, politico to politico.

Sounds like a barrel of laughs over at HUD.

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