In the summer of 1989, I was serving as Assistant Secretary of Housing at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the first Bush Administration. The Secretary of Housing was Jack Kemp, formerly a Congressman from Buffalo. One of Kemp’s assistants approached me after a meeting, and told me that Kemp needed me to arrange for project-based certificates (subsidy) to be sent to a local housing agency in New York City, New York HDC.

I explained to the assistant that such an action would be in violation of the competitive process we had publicly committed to as a result of scandals related to steering of such subsidy during the Reagan Administration. In addition, because our project-based subsidy appropriation was spent, I was told that such an action would also be illegal, a violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act. I agreed to have my staff research the matter to see if we could find a legal avenue to achieve the same result.

A day or so later, the Secretary called me to his office. He was insistent that I send the certificates to New York HDC. I explained to him that this was an illegal award, a violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act. He said he did not care, to do it anyway.

The only way I can describe his demeanor was that of terror. It was almost as if his fear had replaced all ambition, judgment, discernment. I concluded that someone was blackmailing him.

After communicating my request for research to my staff, one of my deputies pulled me aside and said that folks who worked on Kemp’s campaign staff who he absolutely trusted had confided in him that Kemp’s sexual activities were far worse than merely bi-sexual rumors and to be very careful. I assumed that he was referring to pedophilia.

I then went to Chicago for a meeting with one of our regional headquarters. I got a call from one of my deputies. Several of my deputies and staff had been required to help someone in Kemp’s office arrange a funding commitment. That person then confirmed the subsidy awards by phone with New York HCD. My staff informed me that the funds were for one of Andrew Cuomo‘s projects in New York. I called the General Counsel’s office and was able to persuade them to reverse the action.

Thus ended my first experience in government with the long-standing and close connection between sex and mortgage fraud.

Solari Report Blog Commentaries

Jack Kemp: 1935 – 2009
(3 May 09)