(Adds detail, background)
By Patrick Rucker
WASHINGTON, March 31 The U.S. housing secretary
announced his resignation on Monday amid investigations into
his role in government contracts, creating a vacuum at an
agency seen as a vehicle for addressing the housing crisis.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson
said that he is leaving office on April 18 "to attend more
diligently to personal and family matters."
Jackson, who took office in March 2004, made no mention of
federal investigations into whether he influenced the awarding
In recent days, lawmakers have said Jackson should resign
as the clouds over his role risked distracting the agency from
addressing the worst housing bust in generations.
Lawmakers want to retool the agency's Federal Housing
Administration to aid more homeowners who face foreclosure.
A White House spokeswoman said that President George W.
Bush accepted Jackson's resignation after the two men met on
Saturday morning. In a prepared statement, Bush said that he
and Jackson had a "strong friendship" and praised his works as
head of the government's largest housing agency.
Senator Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking
Committee, said in a statement that he hoped "this change in
personnel will be matched by a change in policy that brings
real solutions to the housing crisis."
Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, recently called for Jackson
to step down because the investigations were hindering his
Jackson, who once headed the Dallas housing agency, has
enjoyed close ties with fellow-Texan Bush but has been damaged
by several scandals in his time as HUD Secretary.
In the spring of 2006, Jackson told an audience that he had
spiked a contract when he heard the winner disparage Bush. An
internal probe found no evidence that Jackson had behaved
illegally but the agency's independent investigations arm is
now examining other cases of alleged wrongdoing.
(Editing by Tom Hals)