Top housing official accuses Carson of 'witch hunt' against employees

Top housing official accuses Carson of 'witch hunt' against employees
© Greg Nash

A top official in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is accusing HUD Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonTrump administration ending delay on over B in Puerto Rico disaster aid HUD to roll back Obama-era housing desegregation rule Trump tells California, New York to 'politely' ask him for help with homeless population MORE of a “witch hunt” against staffers, including the employee who recently revealed Carson’s spending on office furniture.

Marcus Smallwood, the department’s director of records, wrote in an email to Carson and other top housing officials that they were operating the department in a way meant to intimidate other employees, according to multiple reports.

“Helen Foster is not the only person at Hud that has been persecuted in this witch hunt under your watch,” Smallwood wrote, referring to the employee who revealed HUD’s spending on office furniture, The Guardian reported.


“She is the only person who has been brave enough to stand on principle and put her career, reputation, and livelihood on the line. The rest of us have operated in fear,” he continued.

Foster filed a complaint with a watchdog for federal employees, alleging that she was replaced after she refused to fund the redecoration of Carson’s office. She wrote in the complaint that she was told to find more money for the redecoration efforts after telling Carson’s wife that $5,000 was the legal limit.

Smallwood wrote that he has “participated in the silencing of employees trying to protect them from the malicious activities of senior leadership at HUD," according to Politico.

He also accused Carson of starting a smear campaign against Foster and demanded that the secretary publicly apologize to her.

"It was her job to be the conscience of HUD and ask the tough questions," Smallwood wrote.

He also asked Carson to say in a public statement “that all employees at Hud should feel free to follow the law, ask when they are unsure, and not fear retribution.”

HUD spokesman Raphael Williams said in an email that the agency doesn’t comment on pending cases and hasn’t officially commented on Foster’s allegations. He said that Smallwood’s email “is under review.”

He added that the department doesn’t tolerate harassment, and included a department email detailing its harassment policy.

He also said that Foster is still an employee at HUD. 

"Per her request, she’s currently on detail with the Department of Treasury and she is expected to return once that detail is completed," Williams said.

HUD is currently under scrutiny for its spending on furniture. The department will reportedly spend $165,000 on “lounge furniture” for its D.C. office, and recently canceled an order for a $31,000 dining room set for Carson's personal office.