Report finds HUD employees interfered with congressional investigation; Goodlatte, Chaffetz call for accountability

U.S. Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) called for accountability after Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) employees were found to have interfered with a congressional investigation.

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that two HUD employees had illegally interfered with a 2012 congressional investigation into an agreement brokered by former Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Tom Perez.

Perez allegedly persuaded a litigant to drop a legal appeal by stopping a Department of Justice fraud investigation involving the litigant.

The GAO report found that HUD’s general assistant secretary and associate general counsel sought to block congressional access to an employee that was central to an investigation into the deal Perez brokered.

“(Tuesday’s) report underscores that Congress will not permit the executive branch to stonewall,” Goodlatte, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said. “Federal law provides penalties for executive branch officials who obstruct congressional oversight and these will be enforced. One of Congress’ central duties is to check executive branch overreach, and to exercise its oversight powers when it suspects wrongdoing. (Tuesday’s) report by GAO shows that HUD clearly stonewalled Congress’ investigation of its involvement in Mr. Perez’s secret deal. HUD must now take appropriate action including following GAO’s recommendation to claw back salary payments from the two officials implicated.”

The GAO report concluded that HUD’s appropriation was not available to pay the salaries of the two officials involved, and it suggested that HUD “seek to recover” salaries paid to them over the period when the violation took place.

“I am pleased GAO reconsidered their initial opinion,” Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said. “This decision now reflects a clear understanding that no one should be prevented or prohibited from communicating with Congress. GAO’s opinion affirms there are consequences for interfering with congressional oversight. We will continue our efforts to ensure proper penalties are enforced.”

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