Ben Carson Enlisted Son’s Help with HUD Event despite Warning of Ethics Violation


(Spectrumbot) #1

Last summer, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson enlisted his son’s help in organizing a listening tour in Baltimore, despite warnings from HUD’s deputy general counsel that doing so risked violating federal ethics rules because it gave the appearance of using his position for his son’s private gain.

Yesterday, The Washington Post reported on the possible ethics violation. Using FOIA (the Freedom of Information Act), the Post obtained a two-page memo dated July 6 from Linda M. Cruciani, deputy general counsel for HUD, in which she “details conference calls and meetings that [she] and her colleagues had with Carson, his son and other senior HUD officials to urge that Carson Jr. not be involved in the listening tour.”

Despite the warnings, Carson Jr. remained intimately involved in planning the June event, crafting the itinerary, and even attending a closed-door session on housing policy. He has also attended at least one other event since: Secretary Carson’s October trip to Baltimore.

In a meeting with Cruciani, the Post reports, Carson told her it would be difficult to have a Baltimore event without his son’s involvement since Carson Jr. is a large employer in the area. He has three law firms and 2,600 employees, according to the Cruciani memo.

The week before the listening tour, HUD officials Mason Alexander and Lynne Patton raised concerns about more than half a dozen individuals Carson Jr. and his wife, Merlynn Carson, asked be invited to the event, who the officials feared Carson Jr. “may be doing business with…or may be interested in doing business with…”

According to Alexander and Patton, one of these individuals was Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Less than three months after the event, CMS awarded a $485,000 contract to Myriddian, a consulting company where Merlynn Carson serves as CEO. Carson Jr. is listed as a board member. A spokesman for CMS said Verma did not attend the event and that CMS does not have record of her receiving an invitation.

Carson Jr. told Cruciani that “nothing we would do would be near a conflict” and that he only wanted to “help his father ask the right questions.” Secretary Carson issued a statement saying, “My family, or people with relationships with my family, have never influenced any decision at HUD.”

Read the full story on The Washington Post website.

Alisa Williams is managing editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.

Image Credit: Flickr.com / U.S. Dept of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8545

(ROBIN VANDERMOLEN) #2

The “ FAKE NEWS “.biassed press,will go,to any lengths to besmirch Trump
and his entourage.

Why is this story being dredged up months after the event occurred?
Why was it not reported at the time?

Nothing surprises me anymore.


(melodie.selby@wallawalla.edu) #3

It took so long because they had to file a Freedom of Information request to get the data.
This is a concern. We all want to think the best of our family, but it can be easy to cross ethical lines without realizing it. Even if our intentions are good, people doing business with someone may think there is an implied quid pro quo.
That’s why it’s so important to keep your family members out of government dealings.


(Thomas J Zwemer) #5

What’s the deal.? Trump has his entire family in the works, for pay no less.


(Billman) #6

If only it was his son-in-law, and not his son.

And as for the “fake” news, that is the epithet one applies when one wants to shoot the messenger, rather than identify what is wrong with the message. It is pretty lame.


(Jeffrey Kent) #7

E-M-B-A-R-R-A-S-S-I-N-G. But no surprise, really.


(Phillip Brantley) #8

I quickly checked to see if Andrews University has ever conferred upon Ben Carson an honorary degree. To my relief, that has never happened. I am embarrassed that he is a Seventh-day Adventist. I guess he probably he is too, given that he did not utter a word in defense of Seventh-day Adventists when Donald Trump maliciously attacked us.


(Store Boy) #11

Really? Fake news? Is that the best you have to offer as a response? The reporter is reporting what the government ethics officials opinions were. What’s fake about that?


(Sirje) #13

Just wondering - the purpose of this article? Given the garbage that comes down the pike these days, someone in the government is making judgments about ethics that matter?


(Andrew) #14

I’m wondering whether jr pulled himself up by his own bootstraps as Dad exhorts as the way ahead for all.


(George Tichy) #15

Anyone surprised? I hope not!!!
Not a surprise at all. For an individual to support Trump, he must be himself a corrupt person.
Yes, he is a SDA, so what?

Well, at least Carson had a “sanctified” campaign (for President) when he worked on it even on some Saturdays… :wink:


(Johnny Carson) #16

That’s what I’ve been wondering. So what?

I’ve also been wondering for some years now why we Adventists stumble all over each other to ingratiatingly (think of a cur dog simpering around your feet at the beach, exposing it’s teeth in hopes of being given a shred of your sandwich) link ourselves to this or that celebrity who has any connection at all with Adventism, either now or in the distant past. When you think about it, it’s really kind of sick.


#19

I’m with those who ask what’s the deal. However deep my disdain for Carson, and however wrong he has shown himself to be for that job, I don’t quite understand the nepotism taboo, especially in this case, where the son wasn’t hired for his input. Or is nepotism the issue here? There will always be individuals on committees who stand to gain from the projects they plan. If he thinks the expertise is valuable, what’s so wrong with enlisting it? Does benefit, whether it involves family or otherwise, always constitute quid pro quo?


(Teresaq) #20

I can’t say I am the least surprised. While there are those who think Carson as an Adventist in politics is the best thing since chocolate, I have a different standard.

For me when he said God told him to run for president that was a sounding alarm, in addition to the alarm I felt when he wanted to clean up this country. Anyone can say God told them to do anything and all kinds of mayhem can, and has, ensued.

I’m sorry there were Adventists who supported him, and I’m sorry there are Adventists who still support him. I can only say our standards, values, are very, very, different. :frowning:


(Emmanuel Moyana) #21

I see no ethics violation here. He is not doing business with the department and neither is he actually employed by the department. Trump has a son, a daughter and even a son in law working in his administration and I don’t hear people complaining about that.


#22

And while they’re at it. I hope he enlisted his brother Ken to oversee the help.


(jeremy) #23

the subsequent story of carson’s spending spree on office furniture fits into the general perception surrounding this decision to enlist his son’s help in the baltimore HUD event, namely, that he isn’t concerned if he benefits himself or his relatives through his position as HUD secretary, or wastes tax payers’ money…i recently saw a press conference by carson on the fact that the furniture in his office is 50 yrs old, and that people sitting on it are at times sitting on nails poking through the upholstery…his point was that he was concerned about peoples’ safety…

carson seems to be able to come up with explanations for each of these episodes, although $31,000.00 is probably beyond the pale for most…it’s good that he’s cancelled this purchase…cumulatively, though, these incidents are adding up…it would be nice to hear something coming out of HUD that isn’t shaded with scandal that carson deftly explains his way out of…


#24

“Philanthropist” Brother Carson is back in the news this week with his latest philanthropic act, lowering subsidies on the recipients of public housing. That’s in contrast to his recent splurge on office furniture. Well done, Ben. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
Looking forward to some commentary on Spectrum.


(George Tichy) #25

Carson appeared to be a dignified man while he was working as surgeon. And he was (is) a great, competent surgeon.

But then, after falling under Trump’s lid, he is a different person, and apparently is becoming contaminated with Trumpism. Therefore, you should expect the worst still to come from this contamination he is experiencing. He should resign, for the health of his own soul!


#26

Perhaps this is the wisdom from the New Testament directive: “Be ye not unequally yoked together.”