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Ex-HUD chief under Bush cleared in probe: lawyers

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Justice Department has closed an investigation into the head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development under former President George W. Bush without bringing charges, his lawyers said on Monday.

Alphonso Jackson was investigated after he made remarks in early 2006 that suggested he had canceled a government contract with a businessman who had criticized Bush.

The Cabinet-level secretary later said he had lied about the cancellation but it prompted an investigation by the HUD inspector general. The probe found no evidence that Jackson actually took such action.

Federal law prohibits considering political affiliation when awarding contracts. Senate Democrats had sought Jackson's ouster amid allegations about the Bush administration directing contracts to political allies.

The senators had said Jackson refused to answer their questions regarding his activities in the awarding of three separate contracts and his involvement in a case of alleged retaliation against the Philadelphia Housing Authority.

The closure of the Justice Department probe without any charges showed that the allegations were without support, his lawyers said in a statement.

Jackson resigned in April 2008.

(Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky, editing by David Storey)