Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson has called on his department's inspector general to “review” the role his family members have played there, tweeting Friday evening that he has been “under attack.”
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Carson allowed his middle son, Ben Carson Jr., to help organize an official listening tour in Baltimore last summer even though department lawyers warned both men that doing so risked violating federal ethics rules.
Carson Jr., who runs a private-equity firm in Maryland, and his wife, Merlynn, who owns an employment management and consulting businesses, invited to the event people with whom they had potential business dealings, one senior lawyer wrote in a memo obtained by The Post under a federal records request.
The HUD secretary tweeted Friday that given the questions about his family's ethics, “I have openly asked for an Independent Investigation to put to rest these unfounded biases.” The tweet included a reference to a passage in the book of Exodus.
Darryl Madden, a spokesman for the HUD inspector general, confirmed in a phone interview Friday that a request had been received but declined to elaborate on whether the office was launching either a review or a more formal inquiry.
“We have received the secretary’s request for review,” Madden said.
Meanwhile, Merlynn Carson has taken to social media to criticize media coverage of her firm's dealings with the federal government. The Post reported this week that federal records show her firm, Myriddian LLC, received a $485,000 contract from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in September without a competitive bidding process, although a CMS spokesman said multiple minority-owned firms were considered.
In a LinkedIn post, Merlynn Carson wrote that multiple firms were interviewed for the contract.
“Oral presentations are similar to 'Shark Tank' presentations that require preparation, hard work, and tenacity” she wrote. “Congress gave Federal agencies the authority to use oral presentations as a vendor selection method to reduce bureaucracy and save taxpayer money, and Myriddian was selected for this contract as a result of such an oral competition.”