When he was nominated to be the next U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, the charismatic mayor of San Antonio was widely believed to be the next vice presidential candidate — or even president. He was a rising star in the Democratic Party. He was admired both in the barrio and on Harvard Square. He was smart. He was ambitious. He was good looking. He was the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention. And he was about to step onto the national stage.
That was Henry Cisneros in the late 1980s.
Back then, there was talk of Henry Cisneros, the former four-term mayor of San Antonio — the most famous Mexican American in the late 1980s — of becoming the country’s first Hispanic president.
But along the way, just shy of his 40th birthday, Henry tripped. In October 1988, Cisneros — a married man with children — confessed to having an affair with La Gringa, Linda Jones Medlar, then 38, an attractive blond fundraiser from San Antonio. Linda had a husband and a young daughter. A political scandal followed that ended Cisneros’ public life and almost destroyed his marriage. Later, in 1997, the FBI accused Cisneros of lying about payments to his former mistress, a woman who was blackmailing Cisneros. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and Clinton later pardoned him.
The painful story of Henry Cisneros, a fellow Democrat who ran HUD under president Bill Clinton, is important today because another Mexican American San Antonio Mayor, Julian Castro, wants to be the next HUD Secretary.
Oddly, Henry Cisneros, 66, is Julian Castro’s mentor. Like Cisneros, Castro is a 38-year old golden-boy shooting star. But there’s another side of Julian Castro. He and his city managers have a history of awarding no-bid contracts, according to insider whistle blower John E. Foddrill, a former San Antonio Telecommunications manager. Additionally, a 2012 Housing and Urban Development Inspector General report allegedly claims that Mayor Julian Castro may have misused $1.1 million in federal neighborhood stabilization funds from the very department Castro is now nominated to head.
“The City did not administer its program in accordance with program monitoring, cost eligibility and affordability requirements,” claims the IG report. “As a result, it could not support more than $1.1 million in program expenditures. The City also paid more than $2.5 million for renovation contracts that it could not show were competitively procured or reasonably priced.”
Moreover, the Texas Ethics Commission sent official notification to Castro and some members of the San Antonio City Council that they are being investigated for multiple campaign finance violations, including using political contributions for personal use, according to the complaint.
Could history be repeating itself?
Is president Obama sending a fox to guard the hen house?
What are your thoughts about the proposed next HUD secretary?
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