McAuliffe pick for VA commerce secretary under fire on Capitol Hill

JONES: HUD auditors say Maurice Jones — former HUD deputy secretary and current Virginia secretary of commerce and labor — improperly lobbied Congress. And now there is a hearing on Capitol Hill.

By Kathryn Watson | Watchdog.org, Virginia Bureau

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Maurice Jones, Virginia’s secretary of commerce and trade, is back in the spotlight, at the center of a U.S. House Financial Services subcommittee hearing Wednesday morning.

A federal investigation concluded Jones improperly lobbied Congress while working as a federal employee. Gov. Terry McAuliffe picked Jones to serve as one of his trusted leaders over Virginia’s economic interests and 13 state agencies.

Jones served as the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development starting in April 2012. On July 31, Jones emailed “friends and colleagues,” urging them to contact specific U.S. senators to advance a bill appropriating money for Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies, according to a House subcommittee memorandum.

“I am humbly asking you to let your senators, especially the ones listed below, know how important it is that the cloture motion passes so that the Senate THUD bill MOVES FORWARD to a vote and TO VOTE for the Senate THUD bill,” Jones wrote, according to the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations memo, citing an inspector general report, which hasn’t been released.

The Washington Times, which first reported the investigation, said the email went to some 1,000 people.

The House subcommittee memo says the “directness” and the “specificity” of the email seem to violate federal restrictions on lobbying by federal agencies.

Jones’ office did not immediately respond to Watchdog.org.

As secretary of commerce and trade, Jones looks after the “economic, community, and workforce development of the commonwealth,” as the commerce and trade website says.

He oversees 13 Virginia agencies: the Board of Accountancy; the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity; the Department of Housing and Community Development; the Department of Labor and Industry; the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy; the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation; the Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission; the Virginia Economic Development Partnership; the Virginia Employment Commission; the Virginia Housing Development Authority; the Virginia Racing Commission; and the Virginia Resources Authority.

The conclusions of the inspector general report will be brought before the U.S. House subcommittee at 10 a.m. Wednesday on Capitol Hill, and Watchdog.org will be there. Follow @kathrynw5 for updates on Twitter.

Kathryn Watson is an investigative reporter for Watchdog.org, and can be reached at kwatson@watchdog.org.

The post McAuliffe pick for VA commerce secretary under fire on Capitol Hill appeared first on Watchdog.org.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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