Carson's calendar includes trips to Florida on Fridays: report

Carson's calendar includes trips to Florida on Fridays: report
© Stefani Reynolds

House and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump targets Iran with new sanctions Gillibrand introduces bill blocking HUD rule on undocumented public housing residents Housing authorities raise concerns about Trump plan to evict undocumented immigrants MORE took at least a dozen weekend trips to Florida between April and November 2017, sometimes leaving the office early on Fridays to catch a flight, NBC reported Monday.

The news outlet reported that Carson's daily schedule from 2017 showed that over a 31-week period, the HUD secretary worked a traditional eight- or nine-hour Friday schedule about half the time. On five instances he was off or had no appointments, and he left early on five other occasions to fly to Florida, where he owns a house.

The calendars showed that Carson typically flew commercially at his own expense when going to Florida, NBC reported.

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The news outlet said that the documents further showed that HUD senior staff met just once a week in 2017. NBC obtained the calendars through American Oversight, a watchdog group that sued for the documents.

A HUD spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill, but the department told NBC in a statement that Carson traveled widely to meet with officials in 2017.

"In 2017, the Secretary traveled to over 27 communities and met with more than 40 elected officials in their communities to discuss HUD business," the department said. "In 2018, his travel and meetings increased and he visited more than 45 communities and met with over 60 elected officials in their communities."

By comparison, previously released calendars from the departments of Transportation, Treasury and Labor during the Trump administration show multiple meetings per week among senior staff, according to NBC News.

Carson, a former surgeon who had no prior experience in housing or the government prior to his nomination to lead the sprawling agency, has worked in the Trump administration since the start of the president's first term.

He has faced relatively little scandal in comparison to some other top Trump officials who have been ousted over controversies ranging from spending habits to ethical issues and possible conflicts of interest.

Carson has faced some backlash for ordering a $31,000 dining set for his office, a decision for which he partially blamed his wife. He ultimately canceled the order. The department’s inspector general also previously opened a review into Carson’s family’s involvement at the agency.