CONTACT: Jordan Libowitz
202-408-5565 | [email protected]
Washington—Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson appears to have violated his ethics obligations by knowingly allowing his family to use his public office for private gain, according to a request for a full and formal investigation by the HUD Inspector General filed today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
Carson’s son and wife have reportedly taken a “visible role in the department.” Along with Carson’s daughter-in-law, the two played a pivotal role in organizing an agency “listening tour” that involved prominent Baltimore business executives who were prospective business clients for Carson’s son and daughter-in-law.
“The government should never be used as a money-generating opportunity for the families of public officials,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said. “The tone is set at the top, and with the presidency so intertwined with the Trump family business, it’s not surprising that other officials would follow the president’s lead.”
A HUD ethics official warned Carson that his family’s participation in the listening tour could potentially violate ethics regulations prohibiting employees from using their position for the private gain of relatives after multiple HUD staffers raised concerns. Carson ignored these concerns. Less than three months after the event, Carson’s daughter-in-law’s consulting firm was awarded a nearly half million dollar no-bid contract from one of their invitees.
“Secretary Carson has announced that he wants a ‘review’ of his family’s role, whatever that may mean,” Bookbinder said. “This is not something that can be brushed under the rug, so the Inspector General should immediately commence a full and formal investigation into whether the Carson family’s conduct violated ethics rules.”