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Kemp Says Loyalty to Reagan Curbs Criticism of HUD

June 18, 1989|From United Press International

WASHINGTON — Housing Secretary Jack Kemp conceded Saturday that being a Ronald Reagan supporter has made him less willing to blame his predecessor publicly for years of abuse now being uncovered within his department.

Noting the partisan ethics controversies swirling in the nation's capital, Kemp turned aside repeated attempts in an interview to get him to fault Samuel R. Pierce Jr., head of the Housing and Urban Development Department under President Reagan.

"There were problems, there was mismanagement, there were programs that were abused and there was political influence going on a lot longer than just the eight (Reagan) years," Kemp said on CNN's "Evans and Novak" program.

Cites 'Systemic Flaw'

"There was a systemic flaw that had to be corrected," he said, using a phrase he then emphasized several times. "I am outraged at what I have found at HUD but, again, I am going to put the blame as much as possible on those systemic problems that were allowed to exist."

Pressed on the question of responsibility at the top, however, the former congressman said: "I'm not trying to shift the blame, but I don't want to get into name-calling. . . . This is an atmosphere in which some people would like to use it in a partisan way, and I'm a Republican, a strong supporter of the Reagan Administration."

Years of Abuse Found

News reports and congressional hearings have begun to uncover years of abuse, fraud and embezzlement in HUD programs.

Atty. Gen. Dick Thornburgh issued orders last week for investigations at every local HUD office in the nation, searching for millions of dollars lost, diverted or stolen in recent years.

Kemp said on the CNN program: "Where there are criminal acts, they will be fully prosecuted. Where the system is flawed, I will correct that system. . . . "

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