President Barack Obama has hit another home run with his nomination of Ronald Sims to be deputy secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
President Obama’s choice for the government’s No. 2 housing job is embroiled in the largest fine in U.S. history for “blatant violations” of open records laws after the Washington State Supreme Court chastised his office for withholding documents detailing taxpayer costs for a new professional football stadium in Seattle.
The documents that Ronald Sims’ office was found to have kept from the public when he served as King County executive included information about cheaper alternatives to the $430 million Seattle Seahawks stadium, which was built in 2002, according to a Washington Times review of the court records.
Washington’s highest court ruled in January that the withheld documents would have allowed voters in a referendum to challenge “the veracity” of King County’s request for $300 million in public bonds for the project. The justices found the actions of Mr. Sims’ office to be so “egregious” that they scrapped a lower court’s order of a $123,780 fine – the largest ever assessed in a public records case – and recommended that the penalty be increased to as much as $825,000.
Mr. Obama nominated Mr. Sims as the top deputy at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) just three weeks after the court’s ruling, which harshly and repeatedly criticized Mr. Sims’ office for its conduct during a 12-year legal fight.
This from the president who promised transparency in government and to change the tone of Washington politics.