WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) violated anti-lobbying statutes by urging members of the public in an email to help support budgeting legislation, the US Government and Accountability Office’s (GAO) legal chief said in congressional hearings.
“HUD violated an appropriations provision, prohibiting the use of appropriated funds for indirect or grassroots lobbying in support of or in opposition to pending legislation,” GAO General Counsel, Edda Emmanuelli Perez, stated in testimony before a House financial oversight committee on Wednesday.
On July 13, 2013, the Deputy Secretary of HUD sent an email to 1,000 recipients that called on “friends and colleagues,” to ask their respective Senators to support a bill that would fund HUD for fiscal year 2014, Perez explained, adding that the violation was subsequently reported by Republican Congressman Patrick Henry.
Perez concluded that the email which “urged members of the public,” to contact Senators constituted “improper grassroots lobbying,” and that HUD violated the law by spending taxpayer dollars to “prepare and transmit the July 2013 E-mail.”
In 2012, Congress passed the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, which prohibits federal agencies from using government funds for preparing any materials for publicity or propaganda purposes to support or defeat legislation.
HUD is a government agency that is responsible for developing affordable housing for low-income families and individuals and building inclusive communities free from discrimination.
The GAO is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress, often called the "congressional watchdog," which investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. The GAO also has authority to issue appropriations law decisions and opinions upon the request of certain federal officials.