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HUD chief out, no effect on Miami-Dade

The Bush administration's top housing official is stepping down amid a criminal investigation and pressure from Democratic critics.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson said today his resignation will take effect April 18.

A spokeswoman for HUD said Jackson's departure will not have "any impact whatsoever" on the agency's controversial takeover of the Miami-Dade housing agency.

The federal agency took control of the troubled county agency last fall.

President Bush called Jackson a "strong leader and a good man" and said he accepted the resignation "with regret.

Jackson has been fending off allegations of cronyism and favoritism involving HUD contractors for the past two years, the Associated Press said. The FBI has been examining the ties between Jackson and a friend who was paid $392,000 by Jackson's department as a construction manager in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

He was first appointed deputy secretary of HUD, and was promoted in December 2003 after Mel Martinez quit the job to run for Senate. Martinez said in a statement he was "proud" to work with Jackson.

"I commend him for the work he has done and for willingly leaving his private life to commit himself to public service," Martinez said. "His devotion to the agency’s mission was clear and his personal experience helped him to help make the American Dream a reality for many families."