Housing and Urban Development’s newly appointed Midwest Regional Office regional administrator has a complicated relationship with the state of Illinois’ housing finance agency.
In May 2015, Gov. Bruce Rauner named Joseph Galvan chairman of the Illinois Housing Development Authority, a position he held until March of 2016 when the governor pulled his nomination, which had not yet been confirmed by the state Senate.
Rauner's about-face on his nomination of Galvan came after the administration received an anonymous letter, claimed to be written by a long-time developer, alleging that Galvan had engaged in misconduct related to his post as IHDA chairman, according to a March 2016 Chicago Sun-Times article authored by the Better Government Association’s Casey Toner titled "Rauner ousts clout-heavy board chair after anonymous allegations."
Rauner appointed Galvan to serve as IHDA chair shortly after Galvan lost his bid for mayor of Elgin. According to HUD's news release, prior to his appointment announced this week, Galvan worked as a principal with Galvan & Associates, a consulting firm with expertise in financial, operations, procurement and performance management and housing and economic development.
According to the Better Government Association/Sun-Times article, the anonymous letter was sent to the Better Government Association, a nonprofit, nonpartisan watchdog organization, and to the governor’s office. The article quoted then-Rauner spokesman Lance Trover as saying, in an emailed statement, that the office reviewed the accusations, which prompted the withdrawing of Galvan’s nomination.
“While an anonymous letter, on its own, is not evidence of guilt, the Governor’s office takes allegations such as these very seriously. Out of an abundance of caution, we have withdrawn Mr. Galvan’s appointment to the IHDA board,” Trover said, as quoted in the Better Government Association/Sun-Times article.
A former regional administrator of Housing and Urban Development’s Midwest Regional Office in Chicago is returning to the position.
Asked by The Southern Illinoisan on Tuesday whether HUD had fully vetted the circumstances that led to the Rauner administration’s decision to remove Galvan from the IHDA post before announcing his appointment to a top HUD position, Midwest Regional Office spokeswoman Gina Rodriguez declined comment. A spokeswoman for the White House also declined comment, referring the newspaper back to HUD.
The Better Government Association/Sun-Times article stated that Galvan, at the time, declined comment directly on the allegations in the letter, though noted his previously unblemished public service. He also said he stood by the governor’s decision, according to the article.
IHDA is a self-supporting state agency that finances affordable housing across Illinois through a number of funding sources including the allocation of federal low-income housing tax credits. IHDA also is a bonding authority and independently sells bonds. The chair of the IHDA board, who is not paid, is a position appointed by the governor.
Housing authorities and private developers of low-income housing may combine programs offered by HUD as well as state housing finance agencies such as IHDA to support the financing of affordable housing. It's likely that officials at HUD and state housing agencies would interact in various capacities.
Trover, as quoted in the Better Government Association/Sun-Times article, said the matter had been forwarded to the executive inspector general’s office. At the time, according to the news report, the inspector general’s office declined comment, saying it could neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation. A spokesperson for the executive inspector general did not return a phone call to The Southern Illinoisan on Tuesday evening. The newspaper is not aware of any investigations that have been made public to date concerning this matter.
Patty Schuh, Rauner’s current spokeswoman, said she was unable to immediately provide a comment to The Southern Illinoisan on the matter as of the newspaper’s deadline Tuesday evening.
The news release HUD issued Monday announcing President Donald Trump’s appointment of Galvan, who is one of 10 HUD regional administrators across the country, listed a number of roles he previously held — including the previous stint he served as the regional administrator for HUD’s Midwest Regional Office — but it did not include the months he spent as chairman of IHDA.
The Midwest regional administrator is responsible for the oversight and delivery of HUD programs and services across six states: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. Galvan will serve as HUD’s liaison to elected officials, congressional delegations, city managers, relevant associations and stakeholders, according to the agency’s news release.
According to the Galvan & Associates website, Galvan's role in the company, which still lists him as a principal, was advising housing authorities on program performance, HUD compliance and executive management issues. The company's website lists among its clients HUD, FEMA, USDA, and the Chicago Housing Authority — Illinois' largest housing authority.
Galvan has a long history of involvement in Republican politics. Prior to being named IHDA chairman by the governor, Galvan had campaigned for Rauner in the 2014 gubernatorial election. He previously held the position of Midwest regional administrator from 2001 to January 2009, under the administration of President George W. Bush.
Galvan, who holds a top HUD post under Secretary Ben Carson, was highly critical of Trump during the presidential primary season. He was one of 11 signatories to an opinion piece published by Fox News in July 2015 titled “Open letter from Hispanic Republicans to Donald Trump.” The letter was in reference to inflammatory and disparaging comments Trump made on the campaign trail about Mexican immigrants.
The letter began, “The undersigned are proud Americans who are either Mexican immigrants or children of Mexican immigrants. Our story, similar to that of millions of immigrants — of all races, creeds and nations — who came before us is one of hard work, faith and perseverance, ingenuity, sacrifice, success and love for America.
“We are not rapists. We are not criminals," the letter continued. "And we do not have a lot of problems, just one — and that is with the comments you made about Mexican immigrants.” The letter concluded by the authors writing that Trump had lost their respect, their buying power and their vote. “We will never support you, your candidacy or your enterprises,” it read. "Without the Hispanic vote you will not be the Republican nominee, much less the president of our great nation.”
Galvan was also quoted in a November 2016 Washington Post article titled "Ryan tries to sell GOP unity after tensions with Trump" — about House Speaker Paul Ryan's attempts to calm the party's angst — stating of party members, "We're family and we have internal bickering sometimes."