Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., on Friday questioned Steven J. Preston's knowledge of housing issues after President Bush announced his intention to nominate Preston to become the next secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Preston, head of the Small Business Administration since June 29, 2006, would replace Alphonso Jackson, who resigned last month under federal investigation for allegedly steering business to friends and associates.

"The department requires strong leadership at a time when our housing market is experiencing a period of challenge and uncertainty," Bush said. "In seeking to fill this important Cabinet post I looked for a leader with an impressive background in finance; someone who understands the important role the housing market plays in the broader economy. I sought a reformer who would act aggressively to help Americans obtain affordable mortgages ... I sought a consensus builder ... I found these qualities ... in Steve Preston."

But Dodd immediately issued this statement: "As our nation faces the biggest housing crisis in recent history, we need a strong leader at [HUD] ... yet the president's choice has no apparent housing background, which raises questions. Nevertheless, I look forward to learning more about Mr. Preston and his qualifications for this job at this trying time in our nation's economy."

Before joining SBA, Preston was executive vice president of the ServiceMaster Co., a network of over 5,500 lawn care, pest control, disaster response, home inspection, and other franchises and companies. Before that, he was a senior vice president and treasurer of First Data Corp. and an investment banker at Lehman Brothers.

 

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