Thinking about Political Corruption

By Peter DeLeon | Go to book overview

3
"WE HAD NO IDEA . . ."

There is no obvious structural reason why the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) should have been singled out ahead of time for particular scandal. Yet beginning in April 1989 with the publication of a report by Paul Adams, HUD's inspector general, criticizing HUD's Moderate Rehabilitation Program (MRP or Mod Rehab), the department became the most complete bureaucratic standard-bearer for political corruption during the eight-year Reagan administration.

While petty scandals had pretty much harassed HUD since its inception in 1965--for instance, real estate speculators during the 1970s, failure to correct possible conflicts of interest, and President Jimmy Carter's apparently funneling of urban development funds to many of his Massachusetts campaign contributors 1--the magnitude of the HUD improprieties under Reagan's secretary of HUD, Samuel R. Pierce, seemed unprecedented. Time magazine's cover story was headlined, Sam Pierce's 'Turkey Farm.'2 Under the banner, "The HUD Ripoff," Newsweek magazine emphasized: "For sheer hypocrisy and cynicism, few scandals can match the fraud and mismanagement at Housing and Urban Development. It's emerged as a rampant case of influence peddling, favoritism and lust for power." 3 The Wall Street Journal titled a front-page story Favoring Friends," and characterized HUD's Mod Rehab "as a pot of gold for fat-cat Republican contributions, wellconnected developers, and powerful Washington consultants." 4 The usually more reserved National Journal was similarly inclined toward sensationalism when it entitled its article "Programmed for Plunder"

-51-

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Thinking about Political Corruption
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Part II FIVE CASES OF CORRUPTION 49
  • 3 "We Had No Idea . . ." 51
  • 5 It's an Ill Wind That Blows 113
  • Index 237
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