Thursday, May 07, 2009

Obama Housing Nominee: Huge open records violation fine

Link
The documents that Ronald Sims' office was found to have kept from the public when he served as King County executive included information about cheaper alternatives to the $430 million Seattle Seahawks stadium, which was built in 2002, according to a Washington Times review of the court records.

Washington's highest court ruled in January that the withheld documents would have allowed voters in a referendum to challenge "the veracity" of King County's request for $300 million in public bonds for the project. The justices found the actions of Mr. Sims' office to be so "egregious" that they scrapped a lower court's order of a $123,780 fine - the largest ever assessed in a public records case - and recommended that the penalty be increased to as much as $825,000.

Mr. Obama nominated Mr. Sims as the top deputy at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) just three weeks after the court's ruling, which harshly and repeatedly criticized Mr. Sims' office for its conduct during a 12-year legal fight.

If confirmed, Mr. Sims would help manage billions of federal dollars set aside for building, maintaining and operating public housing inside a government agency with a history of misspending and corruption. A Senate committee last week forwarded Mr. Sims' nomination to the full Senate without asking the nominee a single question.