In what could be a potential blow to the Obama administration’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Donald Trump may appoint one of the agency’s biggest foes as its secretary.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is best known for his long legal and political fight against HUD and the Justice Department over a federal court settlement that would force Westchester communities to build more affordable housing in areas that HUD deemed to be not racially diverse enough.
The Journal News reported in late October that there has been talk that either Trump himself or his campaign had talked about the job of HUD Secretary in front of Astorino.
“I can only say that I can’t confirm or deny the rumor— and that the County Executive loves his current job. He’s been friendly with Mr. Trump for many years, so any private discussions between them need to remain private,” Astorino’s spokesman William O’Reilly said in a statement.
SiriusXM’s Andrew Wilkow asked Astorino on Wednesday whether he would accept the job as HUD secretary if offered the position by Trump, Astorino responded, “I could not imagine that I would be asked but if I were asked, I’d certainly have to consider something like that.”
The Westchester County executive described a conversation he had with Trump about the legal issues facing his county, a place where Trump owns a private golf club in Briarcliff Manor.
“I think that it’s no question that Westchester has been the bellwether. It has been the canary in the coal mine and I’ve been warning people nationally really since I got into office. It’s got a lot of attention from the Wall St. Journal and conservative groups. And other communities around the country [like] Colorado Springs. Many towns have taken our lead and said, ‘We don’t want your money and they dropped out of the program, because if you don’t take a dime from HUD they can’t do anything,” Astorino explained.
According to the Westchester executive, the two discussed the new HUD regulation imposed on municipalities that take block grants from the federal government. Known as the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, the regulation would mandate neighborhoods to be rezoned based on income and racial prerequisites.
“[Trump] is aware of it and he understands it and he absolutely opposes what the Obama administration is trying to do and what Hillary would perpetuate. It’s urbanizing the suburbs and it’s taking away the rights of local communities through their own elected officials to determine how their community is made up,” Astorino told The Daily Caller last June. “And that’s exactly what the Obama administration is doing through the powers of the federal government. It would not continue under the [Trump] administration.”
Astorino explained to Wilkow that the conversation he had with Trump in June included what Trump wants to do to the regulation.
“This is something that I talked to Donald Trump about and I’ve known him for 15 years. I talked to him about it in June. He totally agreed with me. This is something that has to totally be ripped up.”