by Sam Hieb
Much regarding federal housing runs under the radar scope, whether or not the rest of the world is focused on the likes of Jussie Smollett. Prime example #1 is the infamous 2009 Christmas Eve document dump “announcing” huge bonuses Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives. So it’s understandable that news regarding former N.C. congressman and Federal Housing Finance Agency head Mel Watt was found to have “misused his position to pursue a relationship with a woman working for him” hasn’t exactly been front and center.
The N&O reports:
The Inspector General’s report, dated Nov. 29, 2018, found that Watt “attempted to coerce or induce” Grimes to “engage in a personal relationship with him by suggesting or implying he would use his authority to assist her in attaining an executive position.”
That is considered a violation of executive branch workplace rules, according to the report. The contents of the report were first reported Friday by The Washington Post.
Reached by telephone on Friday afternoon, Watt told The Charlotte Observer that he had no comment and referenced his response, which is included in the report.
“I strongly disagree,” Watt wrote to begin his response. The findings, he wrote, “are not supported by the facts in this case.”
According to the report, Watt did not deny inviting Grimes, a subordinate, to meet with him alone at his apartment or professing his physical attraction to her. Watt also did not deny holding out opportunities for Grimes to be promoted and knowing that he had total control over those positions.
“We find that there are no circumstances under which it would be appropriate for the head of FHFA to induce a subordinate employee to meet him alone, in his apartment, for a conversation in which he professes his attraction for that employee and holds out opportunities for the employee to serve in specific executive positions over which exercises total control,” the report states.
So —at age 73 with a long career in government behind him–Watt gets to ride off into the sunset. Hopefully he’s thankful for that.