Earlier today, President-elect Donald Trump formally picked his former GOP presidential rival Ben Carson to be secretary of housing and urban development. Trump had previously floated the possibility of naming Carson to the top post at the Department of Education or the Department of Health and Human Services.
In November, Carson’s spokesman said that the former neurosurgeon and Republican presidential candidate didn’t want to pursue a role in the Trump administration because he has no relevant experience in managing a federal agency and the “last thing he would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency.” Trump himself has compared Carson to a child molester, questioned his mental stability and suggested that he is pathologically violent.
Carson, who himself has admitted that he has no background in housing policy beside the fact that he “grew up in the inner city,” has a very thin record on housing issues. In fact, most of his public comments on the subject have involved his opposition to efforts to combat housing discrimination.
While campaigning in Iowa last year, Carson denounced an agreement between HUD and the city of Dubuque to ensure that the city didn’t discriminate against people from predominantly African American communities in its distribution of federally funded housing vouchers. Carson claimed that the agreement was an attempt by the government “to infiltrate every part of our lives” and that it was reminiscent of “what you see in communist countries.”
Carson also criticized a new HUD rule meant to help municipalities use data to “overcome historic patterns of segregation,” mocking such “government-engineered attempts to legislate racial equality” as “failed socialist experiments” and “downright dangerous.”
Carson’s last experience in running a major operation, his own presidential campaign, didn’t go too well. Carson aides turned the campaign into their personal piggy bank, defrauding donors to make money for their own businesses, a development that Carson later joked about, explaining that when the campaign officials he hired “saw that my name was attracting a lot of money they, you know, began to take advantage of that situation.”
During the campaign, Carson was also forced to answer for his involvement in a business venture that sold quack cures to people with cancer, ALS and other diseases. Carson insisted during a presidential debate that he had no relationship with the pseudo-scientific company and that the entire controversy was manufactured by the media. This claim was somewhat undermined by the fact that he had made a widely-viewed promotional video for the multi-level marketing firm and its products.
Carson, much like Trump, has embraced one conspiracy theory after another, no matter how strange.
As we’ve reported, Carson claimed during his campaign that the gay rights movement “was part of a wider anti-American, anti-God, anti-Constitution plot conjured up by communist subversives and the New World Order” and stunningly stated that prison rape proves homosexuality is a choice.
Before and throughout his campaign, Carson made bizarre claims about the education system, Ebola, Egyptian pyramids, Muslim-Americans and President Obama:
While positioning himself as a defender of the Constitution and freedom, Carson called for the federal government to stop recognizing Supreme Court rulings and praised armed militias standing off with the government in Nevada. He said that the federal government should begin monitoring of churches, schools, organizations and media outlets “that were anti-American,” specifically calling for government monitoring of classrooms and libraries.
Fearing that non-citizens were illegally voting in U.S. elections, Carson pledged to deport them and have their “citizenship revoked.”
Carson’s campaign efforts were also not helped by his series of baffling claims regarding the theory of evolution, the founding fathers, Ebola-tainted urine, clothing, vaccines and Egyptian pyramids, or by the fact that he was caught plagiarizing from far-right authors and sharing fabricated quotes from historical figures.
Carson also had interesting views on foreign policy, arguing that ISIS would have been stopped if only there were more firearms in Iraq, suggesting that liberals promote marijuana reform in order to distract people from Benghazi, warning about nonexistent college ties between Iranian, Palestinian and Russian leaders, asserting that China has entered the Syrian Civil War and memorably mispronouncing “Hamas” as “hummus.”
Obama, Carson claimed, was an anti-American, treasonous, Lenin– and Hitler-inspired, Communist tyrant who has made America resemble Nazi Germany and reintroduced slavery through his health care reform law .