Henry Cisneros

From Academic Kids

Henry Gabriel Cisneros (born June 11, 1947) is a prominent American politician and community leader. He was the first person of Hispanic background elected as mayor of a large American city and later served as U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 1993 to 1997.



The son of Elvira and George Cisneros, Henry Cisneros was born in San Antonio, Texas. He was one of five siblings. He received his primary education in Catholic schools in San Antonio and later received a B.A. and an M.A. in Urban and Regional Planning from Texas A&M University. He earned an additional M.A. in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a Ph.D in Public Administration from George Washington University. He married Mary Alice Perez in 1969. They have two daughters, Teresa and Mercedes, and a son, John Paul.

Public life

In 1975, he was elected to the San Antonio City Council, becoming the youngest councilperson in the city's history. He served for six years on the City Council and was elected Mayor of San Antonio in 1981. He served four terms as mayor. As mayor of San Antonio, Cisneros began to attract national attention for his success in developing new growth in the city's business sector and in promoting cooperation among the city's various ethnic groups. Also while mayor, Cisneros had a well-publicized affair with constituent Linda Medlar. The affair did not end until 1991 when Cisneros's wife filed for divorce; although the couple reconciled and the divorce action was dropped, the affair would nonetheless come back to haunt him in the future.

In 1989, he left public office and became chairman of the Cisneros Asset Management Company, a national asset management firm for tax-exempt organizations. He also served as deputy chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and was a board member of the Rockefeller Foundation.

Cisneros was nominated by President William Clinton to serve as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. He was sworn into office by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist on January 22, 1993. During his term, he reformed the public housing system and successfully resisted efforts to substantially reduce or wholly eliminate the Department. Citing the needs of his family, he resigned as Secretary in January, 1997 while under a cloud of personal scandal.

Independent Counsel's investigation

In March, 1995 U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno secured the appointment of an Independent Counsel to investigate allegations that Cisneros had lied to FBI investigators during background checks prior to being named Secretary of HUD. He had been asked about payments that he had made to former mistress Linda Medlar, also known as Linda Jones. The affair had been public knowledge for a number of years - during the 1992 presidential campaign, U.S. Treasurer Catalina Vasquez Villalpando publicly referred to Cisneros and candidate Clinton as "two skirt-chasers" - but he lied about the amount of money he had paid to Medlar. The investigation continued for three and a half years. In December, 1997, he was indicted on 18 counts of conspiracy, giving false statements and obstruction of Justice. In January, 1998, Medlar pleaded guilty to 28 charges of fraud and obstruction of justice related to her having falsified audio taped evidence against Cisneros. In September, 1999, Cisneros negotiated a plea agreement with the under which he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of lying to the FBI and was fined $10,000. He did not receive jail time or probation. He was pardoned by President Bill Clinton in January 2001. The independent counsel investigation continued after the pardon. In May 2005, Senator Dorgan (D-ND) proposed ending funding for the investigation; negotiators refused to include the provision in a bill funding military operations in Afghanistan. The funding at that point for the investigation totaled $21 million.

See: Clinton's Pardons List

After leaving public office

Upon resigning from his post as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Cisneros became president of Univision, a Spanish language television station.

In August, 2000 he formed American City Vista, a joint venture with KB Home for the purpose of building homes in central areas of major metropolitan areas.

External links

Preceded by:
Jack Kemp
U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Succeeded by:
Andrew Cuomo

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