Politics

Daily Caller EXCLUSIVE: Watchdog Gave Grassley False Info, Omitted Crucial Details

Daily Caller logoFormer Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Inspector General (IG) David Montoya gave false information and omitted key facts in a letter to Senate Committee on the Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group has learned.

Montoya erroneously attributed an inaccurate article in another publication to The Daily Caller and compared it to an entirely unrelated TheDC story. He also claimed his office cooperated with the media while neglecting to say his spokesmen ignored multiple requests for comment and omitted other crucial details included in TheDCNF’s news story.

The now-former IG presented the misinformation in a June 9, 2017, letter to the Iowa Republican in an attempt to discredit and dispute TheDCNF. Montoya’s letter was a response to Grassley’s questions for him regarding an April 30, 2017, story by TheDCNF showing that the IG withheld 14 reportsabout HUD mismanagement from the public.

Montoya quietly left his position without explanation soon after sending the letter, TheDCNF has reported.

Under “my leadership this office has taken tangible steps to be forthright and transparent with all media organizations that seek our assistance,” Montoya wrote to Grassley. “Despite our best efforts to work openly with the media outlet identified above, we find it necessary to again cite the facts.”

But Montoya didn’t tell Grassley that his IG office ignored multiple requests from TheDCNF for comment or explanation — both before and after the article regarding the withheld reports was published.

Montoya also erroneously attributed an inaccurate The Daily Wire article to The Daily Caller and falsely described the former as “a sister entity” to the latter. He pointed to errors in The Daily Wire story and linked to an independent fact check before comparing it to TheDCNF article Grassley asked about.

“The Daily Caller misinterpreted the timeline of facts,” which “were brought to their attention and they chose to ignore them,” Montoya wrote in reference to The Daily Wire article “Ben Carson Finds $500 Billion (Billion!) In Errors During Audit Of Obama HUD.”

“By letting this story [sic], we remain concerned that this misleads readers toward making inaccurate assumptions regarding the work of this office,” Montoya said.

The Daily Wire story to which Montoya linked never appeared on the web sites of either TheDC or TheDCNF.

The Daily Wire’s only relationship to TheDCNF is a licensing agreement that allows it to republish the nonprofit’s articles.

Montoya told Grassley TheDCNF’s story about withheld IG reports “represents this same form of fact checking. It presents a false impression this office is remiss in its” oversight mission. “This characterization is not true and [is] offensive to the men and women of HUD [IG] … The HUD [IG] is not withholding any information that could be used to improve departmental operations.”

TheDCNF story said the IG:

posted its systemic implication reports – documents that reveal opportunities for fraud in agency programs – to its website. A comparison between that listing and another TheDCNF previously obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request showed 14 reports from 2011 through 2014 were excluded from the IG’s the website.

At least three of those reports were also kept from HUD, meaning top department officials may not even be aware of the problems and suggested remedies.

One unreleased 2011 report revealed that 1,300 fugitives – including rapists and murderers – were illegally living in HUD-funded homes, and local authorities managing the properties refused to evict them …

Montoya told Grassley that 13 of the 14 withheld reports were never finalized and consequently were not published. He did not mention TheDCNF reported that at least some of the reports were drafts.

Montoya listed four reasons why certain reports may not be finalized, but three of those acknowledge rather than refute HUD problems the IG uncovered.

Montoya only explained why one report – regarding the 1,300 fugitives living in HUD-funded homes – remained a draft.

Data “cited by the staffer in the information contained in the report could not be substantiated or even replicated in a way that showed it was a sound assessment of numbers, so that the analysis was deemed unreliable,” Montoya wrote.

The former IG previously told Grassley that his office hasn’t been able to determine how many fugitives lived in HUD-funded homes for four years. He was able to provide some information about the 1,300, which provided at least a partial confirmation of the data.

Montoya also did not tell Grassley that IG spokesman Darryl Madden repeatedly refused to tell TheDCNF what was meant by “data issues.”

Follow Ethan on Twitter. Send tips to ethan@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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