Report Says HUD Changed Ruling Soon After Consultant Was Hired

From Associated Press

Federal housing officials reversed themselves last year and approved funding for a Minnesota housing project after the developers hired as a consultant the nephew of former Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger, according to a published report.

The consultant, Robert Weinberger, was also an aide to President Ronald Reagan when the latter was governor of California, the New York Times reported in today's editions.

Robert Weinberger is the latest on a growing list of prominent Republicans who successfully represented developers seeking help from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the paper said.

The documents reportedly show that after the HUD office in Minneapolis rejected a plan for the agency to provide mortgage insurance for a $5-million housing project for the elderly in St. Paul, a handwritten note from HUD Secretary Samuel R. Pierce on Aug. 23 said his senior staff would give "very careful consideration" to an appeal from the developers.

The note responded to a letter dated Aug. 22 from Sen. Pete Wilson (R-Calif.) who had asked Pierce to reconsider the project.

Less than two weeks later, the documents showed, the Minneapolis' office decision was reversed. Wilson and Robert Weinberger are friends, the paper said.

Weinberger told the paper in an interview Monday that he and his firm in Laguna Niguel, Calif., received about $15,000 in fees for its work on the project.

He said it was "ludicrous" to think that he used his uncle's name in lobbying.

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