U.S. Senator Calls for Providence Housing Authority Investigation
Iowa Senator Charles Grassley is calling on HUD to launch an investigation into the Providence Housing Authority (PHA) after accusations were made by an employee.
Last month, a PHA executive administrative officer sent a 37-page complaint that includes allegations of “serious misconduct, fraud, and perhaps criminal activity,” as well as sexual harassment by the agency's executive director, to the Mayor's office and various agencies, including the Attorney General's office, HUD, and the Department of Labor and Training.
The administrative officer has filed for protection under the state's whistleblower law, which protects her from retaliation by her employer or coworkers.
In a letter sent to HUD, Senator Grassley requested that HUD provide documents pertaining to each one of the officer's claims, including travel records, hiring records, financial documents including salary information and billing statements, and employment contracts. He attached the billing statements from the PHA's 2010 and 2011 retreats in Sandwich, Mass., on Cape Cod for reference. Those retreats cost nearly $9,200 and $10,600 respectively, which included room costs, buffets, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, wine, and open bars.
Grassley requested that HUD respond to the letter by April 13, 2012, and that the Inspector General commit to fully investigating the matter.
Earlier this month, a HUD spokesperson confirmed that an “extensive” review of the agency was already underway. In addition, the PHA's Board of Commissioners voted late last month to hire an independent lawyer to investigate the officer's allegations, and Providence's mayor has asked the City Solicitor to work with investigative authorities. The matter has also been referred to the state police.