Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is acknowledging the challenges of his role in the Trump administration, telling The New York Times that being responsible for the agency is a complicated undertaking.
“There are more complexities here than in brain surgery,” he told the Times in an interview last week. “Doing this job is going to be a very intricate process.”
The acclaimed surgeon has faced scrutiny in recent months for his leadership over HUD.
Last month, CNN obtained a November 2017 complaint from HUD’s former chief administration officer, who said she was told to “find money” beyond the legal $5,000 limit for redecorating. In one instance, she alleges that a supervisor said that “$5,000 will not even buy a decent chair.”
Soon after, it was revealed that HUD spent $31,000 to replace a dining room set for Carson’s office.
Carson said in a statement to CNN that he was “surprised” about the order and had it canceled.
He also called for a review by the agency’s inspector general after questions were raised over Carson’s son, Ben Carson Jr., and daughter-in-law’s role with the agency. The two organized a listening session for the agency in Baltimore last summer.
“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,” Carson said in a statement last month.
Speaking to the Times, Carson maintained that his family was “ethically pure.”
“I don’t have any problem with ethics,” Carson said. “Here is a rather unique situation, Ben is somebody who is integrally important to me, and wants to help. I’m not going to just say no because it looks this way or that way.”