|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:||CONTACT: CHRISTI HARLAN|
|Tuesday, March 23, 1999||202-224-0894|
GRAMM CALLS FOR COMMITTEE INVESTIGATION
OF HUD'S CANCELLATION OF CRIMINAL AUDITS
Sen. Phil Gramm, chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, said the committee will investigate the cancellation by the Department of Housing and Urban Development of audits aimed at suspected wrongdoing in two cities.
"We're going to ask for all documents, all memos, all computer records related to the decision not to undertake these criminal audits," Gramm said at a hearing of the Banking Committee's Subcommittee on Housing and Urban Transportation.
Gramm's comments followed testimony from HUD Inspector General Susan Gaffney that she was stopped from conducting audits of HUD programs in New Orleans and San Francisco. Along with Baltimore, New Orleans and San Francisco were selected for audits after preliminary evaluations by the inspector general and the FBI. HUD officials were concerned that the mayors of all three cities are African-American, Gaffney told the subcommittee.
"It is an absolute outrage in a democracy when we have an inspector general working with the FBI, and they say taxpayers' money is being stolen, and then a political decision is made to stop that investigation," Gramm said. "In this Congress, that is not going to be tolerated. This is just the beginning of long effort. We will be holding very intensive oversight hearings on this subject."
Gaffney told the subcommittee the audit criteria was changed to target federal judicial districts, rather than cities.
"You ended up doing Long Island and North Texas," Gramm said. "I welcome audits in my state. And I'm not sensitive. I don't like criminals; I don't like thieves. I don't care what their ethnic background is, or who their mayor is, I just don't like crooks. So I'm delighted that you decided to audit North Texas, and let me invite you to audit my entire state.
"We're going to do these criminal audits," Gramm said. "We're going to have an investigation of New Orleans and San Francisco. We're going to bring the HUD Secretary before this committee, and we're going to put him under oath. We're going to find out exactly what happened here. We don't play political favorites with criminals."