Benjamin Solomon Carson

Benjamin Solomon Carson

SOURCE:  Wikipedia, captured 2020-08-04

  • U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: 2017-present
  • See also:

    Benjamin Solomon Carson Sr. (born September 18, 1951) is an American politician, public servant, author, and retired neurosurgeon who has served as the 17th United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development since 2017. Carson was a candidate for President of the United States in the Republican primaries in 2016, at times leading nationwide polls of Republicans. Carson is considered a pioneer in the field of neurosurgery.

    Carson became the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center in 1984 at age 33; he was the youngest chief of pediatric neurosurgery in the United States. Carson was also a professor of Neurosurgery, Oncology, Plastic Surgery, and Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Carson's achievements include performing the only successful separation of conjoined twins joined at the back of the head; performing the first successful neurosurgical procedure on a fetus inside the womb; performing the first completely successful separation of type-2 vertical craniopagus twins; developing new methods to treat brain-stem tumors; and revitalizing hemispherectomy techniques for controlling seizures. Carson wrote over 100 neurosurgical publications. Carson retired from medicine in 2013.

    Carson has received numerous honors for his neurosurgery work, including more than 60 honorary doctorate degrees and numerous national merit citations. In 2001, he was named by CNN and TIME magazine as one of the nation's 20 foremost physicians and scientists, and was selected by the Library of Congress as one of 89 "Living Legends" on its 200th anniversary. In 2008, Carson was bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. In 2010, he was elected into the National Academy of Medicine. Carson was the subject of the 2009 TV film Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, where he was portrayed by Cuba Gooding Jr.

    Carson was the featured speaker at the 1997 National Prayer Breakfast. Carson gave a widely publicized speech at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast that catapulted him to conservative fame for his views on social and political issues.

    Early life and education

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    Further activities during 2016 election

    On March 11, 2016, a week after Carson ended his presidential campaign, Carson endorsed Trump, calling him part of "the voice of the people to be heard." Carson's subsequent comments that Americans would have to sustain Trump for only four years if he was not a good president drew criticism and he admitted that he would have preferred another candidate, though thought Trump had the best chance of winning the general election. On the other hand, at the press conference Carson said Trump had a "cerebral" side.

    On April 16 2016, Carson spoke favorably of the possibility of abolishing the Electoral College, believing it disregards "the will of the people." Later that month, on April 25 2016, Carson expressed opposition to Harriet Tubman replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, the day after dubbing the replacement "political expediency," though he indicated interest in Tubman having another tribute. In late April 2016, Carson wrote to the Nevada Republican Party, requesting the two delegates he won in Nevada be released and free to support whoever they want.

    On May 4 2016, after Trump wrapped up the Republican nomination, he hinted that Carson would be among those who would vet his vice-presidential pick. The same day, Carson in an interview expressed interest in Ted Cruz serving as Attorney General of the United States, a position that Carson said would allow Cruz to prosecute Hillary Clinton, and then as a Supreme Court Justice nominee from the Trump administration. On May 6 2016, Carson said in interview that Trump would consider a Democrat as his running mate, conflicting with Trump's asserting that he would not. A Carson spokesperson later said Carson expected Trump to select a Republican. Carson was said by aide Armstrong Williams in a May 10 2016 interview to have withdrawn from the Trump campaign's vetting team, though the campaign confirmed he was still involved. Later that month, Carson revealed a list of potential vice-presidential candidates in an interview with The Washington Post. On May 16 2016, Carson said the media could not keep opinion out of reporting and cited Walter Cronkite as a fair journalist who was in his words a "left-wing radical."

    During the Republican National Convention, Carson appeared with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani in support of the pro-Donald Trump Great America PAC at an event in Cleveland.

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    Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

    Nomination and confirmation

    After Donald Trump's win in the 2016 election, Carson joined Trump's transition team as Vice Chairman. Carson was also offered a cabinet position in the administration. Carson declined, in part because of his lack of experience, with an aide stating, "The last thing he would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency." Although it was reported that the position was for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Carson's business manager has disputed this, stating, "Dr. Carson was never offered a specific position, but everything was open to him." Carson was eventually offered the position of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, which he accepted.

    On December 5, 2016, Trump announced that he would nominate Carson to the position of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. During the confirmation process, Carson was scrutinized by some housing advocates for what they perceived as his lack of relevant experience.

    On January 24, 2017, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs voted unanimously to approve the nomination. On March 2, 2017, Carson was confirmed by the Senate by a 58-41 vote.


    On March 6 2017, his first day as secretary, while addressing Housing and Urban Development (HUD) employees, Carson saluted the work ethic of immigrants, and during his comments likened slaves to involuntary immigrants. A HUD spokesman said that no one present thought Carson "was equating voluntary immigration with involuntary servitude." In the same speech, Carson inaccurately said that the human brain "was incapable of forgetting and could be electrically stimulated into perfect recall."

    Under the federal budget proposed by Trump in 2017, HUD's budget for fiscal year 2018 would be cut by $6.2 billion (13%) and the Community Development Block Grant, a program which Carson praised in a trip to Detroit as HUD secretary, would be eliminated. Carson issued a statement supporting the proposed cuts. Carson suggested that federal funds for housing in Detroit could be part of an expected infrastructure bill.

    On April 2017, while speaking in Washington at the National Low Income Housing Coalition conference, Carson said that housing funding would be included in an upcoming infrastructure bill from the Trump administration.

    In July 2017, during his keynote address at the LeadingAge Florida annual convention, Carson stated his concern about "seniors who become destitute" and reported that the Department of Housing and Urban Development had increased public housing programs for the elderly by an unspecified number.

    In summer 2017, Carson allowed his son, Baltimore businessman Ben Carson Jr., to participate in organizing a HUD "listening tour" in Baltimore. Internal documents obtained by The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act showed that the younger Carson "put people he'd invited in touch with his father's deputies, joined agency staff on official conference calls about the listening tour and copied his wife on related email exchanges." The son's involvement prompted HUD staff to express concern; the department's deputy general counsel for operations wrote in a memorandum "that this gave the appearance that the Secretary may be using his position for his son's private gain." Carson's wife, son, and daughter-in-law also attended official meetings. In February 2018, the HUD inspector general's office confirmed that it was looking into the role Carson's family played at the department.

    During congressional testimony in May 2019, Carson did not know what the term REO ("Real Estate Owned" refers to housing owned by a bank or lending institution post-foreclosure) stood for and confused it with the cookie, Oreo. In response, Carson went on the Fox Business Network where he accused Democrats of adhering to "Saul Alinsky" tactics.

    On March 1, 2020, the office of Vice President Mike Pence announced Carson's addition to White House Coronavirus Task Force.

    Office furnishing

  • Main article: Ben Carson office furnishing scandal

    Carson received criticism for spending up to $31,000 on a dining set in his office in late 2017. This expenditure was discovered after Helen Foster, a career HUD official, filed a complaint alleging that she had been demoted from her position because she refused to spend more than the legal $5,000 limit for office redecorations. Carson and his spokesman said that he had little or no involvement in the purchase of the dining set; later, email communications revealed that Carson and his wife selected the dining set. On March 20, 2018, Carson testified before the United States House Committee on Appropriations that he had "dismissed" himself from the decision to buy the $31,000 dining room set and "left it to my wife, you know, to choose something." On September 12, 2019, HUD's inspector general released a report clearing Carson of misconduct.

    Ben Carson: Transphobia

    Remarks on transgender use of homeless shelters

    Carson was accused by members of the Department of Housing and Urban Development of making transphobic remarks at a meeting in San Francisco in September 2019. Carson warned that "big, hairy men" might infiltrate homeless shelters for women, prompting one woman to walk out. Reps. Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts and Jennifer Wexton of Virginia called for his resignation, but Carson said the accusations were a "mischaracterization." A HUD spokesperson responded that Carson "does not use derogatory language to refer to transgendered individuals. Any reporting to the contrary is false."

    In July 2020, Ben Carson announced a new rule that would allow exclusion of transgender people seeking access to shelter through HUD-funded services.

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    Personal life

    Carson and his wife, fellow Detroit native Lacena "Candy" Rustin, met in 1971 as students at Yale University and married in 1975. They began living in West Friendship, Maryland in 1988. Together, the couple have three sons (Rhoeyce, Benjamin Jr., and Murray), as well as several grandchildren. Their eldest son, Murray, was born in Perth, Australia, while Carson was undertaking a residency there. In 1981 Carson's wife became pregnant with twins before miscarrying in the fifth month of her pregnancy.

    In 2001, Ben and Candy Carson bought a 48-acre property in Upperco, Maryland.

    After being diagnosed with prostate cancer, Carson underwent a two-hour operation at the Johns Hopkins Hospital on August 7, 2002.

    In 2013, Carson, his wife, and Carson's mother moved to West Palm Beach, Florida.

    Surrounding his confirmation as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Carson bought a $1.22 million home in Vienna, Virginia in February 2017 and sold his West Palm Beach home for over $900,000 in May 2017.


    Carson and his wife are members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA). Carson was baptized at Burns Seventh-day Adventist Church in Detroit. A few years later, he told the pastor at a church he was attending in Inkster, Michigan, that he had not fully understood his first baptism and wanted to be baptized again. Carson has served as a local elder and Sabbath School teacher in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Although Carson is an Adventist, the church has officially cautioned church employees to remain politically neutral.

    In keeping with his Seventh-day Adventist faith, Carson announced in 2014 his belief "that the United States will play a big role" in the coming apocalypse. Carson went on to say, "I hope by that time I'm not around anymore."

    In an interview with Katie Couric, Carson said that Jesus Christ came to Earth to redeem the world through his atoning sacrifice and that all people are sinners and need his redemption.

    Carson has stated he does not believe in hell as understood by some Christians: "You know, I see God as a very loving individual. And why would he torment somebody forever who only had a life of 60 or 70 or 80 years? Even if they were evil. Even if they were only evil for 80 years?" This is fully in line with Adventist teaching, which promotes annihilationism [the view that whoever and whatever cannot be redeemed by God is ultimately put out of existence].

    Carson endorsed Seventh-day Adventist theology, which includes belief in a literal reading of the first chapters of Genesis. In a 2013 interview with Adventist News Network, Carson said "You know, I'm proud of the fact that I believe what God has said, and I've said many times that I'll defend it before anyone. If they want to criticize the fact that I believe in a literal, six-day creation, let's have at it because I will poke all kinds of holes in what they believe." Carson's Adventism was raised as an issue by his then-primary rival Donald Trump. Some Adventists have argued that Carson's political positions on gun rights and religious liberty conflict with historic Adventist teachings in favor of nonviolence, pacifism, and the separation of church and state.


    Consistent with the practice of many Adventists, Carson is a lacto-ovo vegetarian (he will eat dishes containing milk, eggs, or cheese, and occasionally, poultry). Carson has said his main reason for becoming vegetarian was health concerns, including avoiding parasites and heart disease, and he emphasizes the environmental benefits of vegetarianism. Carson transition was made easier because he had eaten little meat for aesthetic reasons as a child, and he readily adopted his wife's vegetarianism because she does much of the cooking in their household. Speaking in 1990, he said that with the increasing availability of meat substitutes, "It might take 20 years. But eventually there will no longer be a reason for most people to eat meat. And animals will breathe a sigh of relief." To avoid causing others discomfort, he is willing to occasionally eat chicken or turkey, although he finds eating pork highly unpleasant.

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