Ethics watchdog calls for probe of Carson family role at federal agency

Ethics watchdog calls for probe of Carson family role at federal agency
© Greg Nash

A left-leaning government organization on Wednesday called for an investigation into Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonKavanaugh an excellent fit to continue the Supreme Court's honored tradition GOP strategist: Republican candidates distancing themselves from Trump could backfire in midterms Ethics watchdog requests probe into Trump officials traveling to campaign events MORE

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) said Carson's family members' "visible role in the department" show that Carson has violated ethics obligations.

"The government should never be used as a money-generating opportunity for the families of public officials,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a statement. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“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.”

The watchdog cites a Baltimore “listening tour," which Carson's wife, son and daughter-in-law were reportedly involved in. 

CREW said the event involved business figures who were prospective clients for Carson's son and daughter-in-law. 

CNN reported last month that HUD lawyers told Carson last year that his son Benjamin Carson Jr.'s involvement in the secretary's "listening tour" could give the appearance of nepotism and could be considered a violation of federal ethics rules.

Carson has denied any conflicts of interest. 

He asked HUD's inspector general to probe the matter. 

"My goal in Baltimore was to listen and help the people of Baltimore have access to safe affordable housing," he said in a statement to CNN. 

"In my role as HUD Secretary, I try to be as inclusive as possible and talk with a wide variety of people because when it comes to increasing access to affordable housing, no rock should remain unturned. From my very first day at HUD I have insisted that HUD operate in an open and ethical manner, in every way. To clear up any suspicion I am calling for the HUD Inspector General to review this matter," he continued.