Want a nice government contract? Better swear allegiance

Tuesday, May 09, 2006 at 04:05 PM

If you were outraged that the President wants all cabinet and subcabinet level offices to include terrorism and Iraq talking points in all public speeches, try this one on (thanks to Raw Story for the lead):  U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson told a Real Estate Executive Council forum audience a story about a  a prospective HUD advertising contractor who was awarded a contract, met with Jackson to thank him for being selected, then was essentially deselected after telling Jackson that "I have a problem with your president...I don't like President Bush."

After discussing the huge strides the agency has made in doing business with minority-owned companies, Jackson closed with a cautionary tale, relaying a conversation he had with a prospective advertising contractor.

"He had made every effort to get a contract with HUD for 10 years," Jackson said of the prospective contractor. "He made a heck of a proposal and was on the (General Services Administration) list, so we selected him. He came to see me and thank me for selecting him. Then he said something ... he said, 'I have a problem with your president.'

"I said, 'What do you mean?' He said, 'I don't like President Bush.' I thought to myself, 'Brother, you have a disconnect -- the president is elected, I was selected. You wouldn't be getting the contract unless I was sitting here. If you have a problem with the president, don't tell the secretary.'

"He didn't get the contract," Jackson continued. "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."

Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University, said canceling a government contract due to political views "is not a door you want to open."

"Whether or not it's legal, it certainly draws your judgment and the judgment of your office into question," Jillson said. "It's just not the tone you want to set."

Told of Jackson's comments, Mary Scott Nabers, a government-contracting consultant in Austin, had a briefer initial reaction. "Oh, my goodness gracious," she said.

Whether or not it's legal?  You've got to be kidding!  I have never seen a law governing government contracts that would allow such crap to be taken into account in awarding a contract, let alone rescinding the award once it's made.  Contractors usually lose cases based on something like this, but only because it would be impossible to prove that the government considered an improper factor.

No such problem here, folks, since the usual incompetent Bush appointee has proudly admitted the impropriety in public, before a live audience.

Stay tuned for what I expect will be a denial from Jackson that the event really occurred.  I expect he'll claim he was telling the story as a joke of some kind.

What's worse, the quality of the Bush appointees, or the degree of political steamrolling that this White House engages in?  Are you embarrassed for your country, yet?

Update [2006-5-10 18:59:22 by Lee Russ]:As predicted, Jackson is denying that the story was meant to be taken seriously. Rather than claiming it's a joke, he's claiming that it was "anecdotal," told only to make a point about Washington, DC. [See http://dallas.bizjournals.com/dallas/stories/2006/05/08/daily19.html]

My money's on the several Democratic legislators calling for Jackson's resignation and/or an investigation.

Alternative spelling for Bush appointee: I M B E C I L E.