A member of the House subcommittee that oversees the Housing and Urban Development Department has asked the General Accounting Office to investigate allegations of fraud, employe abuse and mismanagement against a high-ranking HUD official.
The official, Baker A. Smith, is head of the department's office of labor relations. The congressman, Rep. James Maddox (D-Tex.), says he has received "numerous allegations" of fraud and abuse against Smith, among them the use of government resources and personnel for Smith's personal business.
The Federal Times reported this week that Smith used his secretary to type correspondence for his legal fraternity and used HUD computers for personal business transactions.
The newspaper also said that the Federal Labor Relations Authority is investigating a charge of unfair labor practices filed against Smith's office, and three formal discrimination complaints are pending as well--one from a Hispanic, one from a black and one from a white woman.
HUD Secretary Samuel R. Pierce Jr., responding to earlier allegations of racism at the department, last week set up a special task force to look into allegations of discrimination against black employes at HUD.
In addition, a hotline complaint to the department's inspector general accused Smith, who has been affiliated with right-to-work groups, of unnecessarily transferring employes--particularly those with strong union backgrounds. The IG's office found no basis for that charge, but the Federal Times quoted sources saying Smith himself reviewed and signed off on the IG report.
Maddox said he has not personally investigated the accusations, but "it seems that Smith is . . . forcing employes out of department by transferring them or other actions that will make them leave HUD so he can replace them with people of his own choosing."
Maddox has tangled with Smith before. Last September the congressman released a copy of a memo written by Smith that criticized a "Solidarity Day" event called to protest administration budget cuts. Maddox blasted that document, as well as a proposal to leaflet HUD headquarters with literature that was considered to be anti-union.
Smith did not return repeated phone calls and a HUD spokesman declined to comment on the matter.