According to Think Progress, HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson "instructed staff to award HUD contracts to President Bush's political allies and withhold them from his political opponents." The revelations came to light as a result of a HUD Inspector General investigation into an allegation that Jackson had "canceled a government contract because the contractor criticized President Bush."

Think Progress refers to this Dallas Morning News article, which says an incident similar to the first allegation did occur, and that in the process of the investigation the Inspector General obtained testimony from a former assistant secretary of public affairs indicating that Jackson said in a staff meeting, in effect, that "it was important to consider presidential supporters when you are considering the selected candidates for discretionary contracts." Other testimony appears to corroborate this. As Think Progress notes, this would be in violation of federal law.

You may also recall that Jackson, who is responsible for public housing and other aspects of Katrina recovery in New Orleans, said at a press conference that "'only the best residents' of the former St. Thomas housing complex should be allowed into the new mixed-income development that replaced it," suggesting that public housing in New Orleans was "gang-ridden by some of the most notorious gangs in this country," that residents protected them, and that others didn't pay rent on time, didn't have jobs, and didn't work.

Perhaps a better policy would be to appoint "only the best public servants" to important cabinet posts. It would be easy to cite this as more evidence of a "culture of corruption" in Washington (and you can make up your own jokes about "notorious gangs"), but in this case it sounds more like blind, and misguided, loyalty to party politics. Either way, the results are not in the best interests of the American people.