An apology from HUD secretary, but for what?

Alphonso Jackson says he "deeply regrets" his "anecdotal remarks."

Published May 10, 2006 9:46PM (EDT)

HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson has just issued a statement in which he says he "deeply regrets" the "anecdotal remarks" he made in Texas recently.

It's a little hard to see what Jackson regrets.

Jackson says that "no contract has ever been awarded, rejected, or rescinded due to the personal or political beliefs of the recipient" during his tenure at HUD. So it seems that Jackson is now saying -- as his spokeswoman did earlier -- that he was simply making up the story he told in Texas about a would-be contractor who was denied government work after telling Jackson that he opposed the policies of George W. Bush.

But why did Jackson tell the story if it wasn't true? His statement offers no explanation. Nor does Jackson's statement explain away the conclusion of the story he told, the part where he said: "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."

Jackson statement speaks at some length about HUD's efforts to contract with businesses owned by members of various minority groups. It also talks about programs for small business. But if Jackson doesn't really "believe" that government contracts should be awarded based on one's political views, you'd think maybe he'd come right out and say that -- or at least say why he was saying the opposite until members of Congress started calling for his head.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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