CREW Requests Documents on Carson Family Involvement at HUD
August 25, 2017
Under the Freedom of Information Act, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (“CREW”) makes this request for records for:
- Copies of all communications from March 6, 2017 to the present between or involving Mrs. Candy Carson and any of the following HUD officials:
- Acting Deputy Secretary Janet Golrick
- Chief of Staff Sheila Greenwood
- Chief Operations Officer David Eagles
- Deputy Chief of Staff Deana Bass
- Deputy Chief of Staff Hunter Kurtz
- Senior Advisor to the Secretary Adolfo Marzol
- White House Liaison Andrew Hudghes
- Chief Information Officer Johnson Joy
- Ginnie Mae Executive Vice President Maren Kasper
- Congressional Relations Officer Victoria Barton
- Senior Policy Advisor Christopher Bourne
- Copies of all calendars and/or other records from March 6, 2017 to the present reflecting meetings with Mrs. Candy Carson and these same 11 individuals.
- Copies of all communications from March 6, 2017 to the present between or involving Mr. Ben Carson, Jr. (““B.J.”) and any of these 11 individuals.
- Copies of all calendars and/or other records from March 6, 2017 to the present reflecting meetings with Mr. “B.J.” Carson and any of these 11 individuals.
According to New York Magazine, Secretary Carson’s family has been taking a “visible role in the department.” Both Candy Carson, Secretary Carson’s wife, and B.J. Carson, their second-oldest son, are commonly-seen figures at HUD. Mrs. Carson, described as “omnipresent,” gave an introductory speech on Secretary Carson’s first day in office and has reportedly “been spending far more time inside the department’s headquarters at L’Enfant Plaza than anyone could recall a secretary’s spouse doing in the past.” B.J. Carson has reportedly been included in email chains within the department and was seen leaving the office of new HUD Chief Operating Officer David Eagles. He also took an active role in Secretary Carson’s recent visit to Baltimore, talking to entrepreneurs at a health fair and introducing them to his father.
The requested records would shed light on the influence that Secretary Carson’s family has on HUD priorities and policy decisions, even though they have no official role in the agency. The records would also inform the public about HUD operations.
On August 31, 2017, HUD denied CREW’s fee waiver request. On September 6, 2017, CREW appealed the decision. On October 6, 2017, HUD affirmed its denial of our fee request.
Read the request here.
Update: CREW received records from HUD that Ben Carson’s wife Candy Carson, son Ben Carson, Jr. and daughter in-law Merlynn Carson had more involvement in HUD activities than was previously known. Candy was scheduled to attend an event organized by the Wisconsin governor’s wife that partnered with federal agencies and several Baltimore meetings with Ben Carson. Candy was also included in an email chain with Ben Carson, Rick Perry, and author Mark Victor Hansen on scheduling a lunch. In April 2017, Ginnie Mae Executive Vice President Maren Kasper sent an email to a Department of Labor official introducing Merlynn, writing that “Her company, Myriddian, recently qualified as an 8(a) business and is focused on workforce development. It came to mind that you might be a helpful resource for her. I will let you two take it from here but thought I would kick off the conversation if possible.” Later that year, Merylynn corresponded with Deanna Bass about Special Government Employees though it is not clear why she did so or if she was interested in any Carson family members becoming SGEs. The records also confirm Ben Carson, Jr., Candy and Merlynn’s role in organizing a listening tour, which has been previously reported. Review the records here.