Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson poses for a photograph before speaking with The Associated Press in his home in Upperco, Md., Dec. 23, 2015.
Photo by Andrew Harnik/AP

Ben Carson voluntarily requests HUD probe of his ethics mess

As if Ben Carson’s tenure as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development hadn’t been rocky enough, the Washington Post  reported last week that the cabinet secretary is at the center of a deeply problematic ethics mess.

According to the allegations, Carson ignored warnings from HUD attorneys and permitted his son to organize an official agency event in Baltimore – where Carson’s son is a local businessman. Ben Carson Jr. and his wife ended up “inviting people with whom they potentially had business dealings,” and then invited those people to contact his father’s deputies after the event.

For months, there have been questions about Carson blurring the lines between his agency and his family members, but the cabinet secretary appears to have ignored those concerns.

Late last week, Carson requested an investigation into his alleged ethical lapses.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson has called on his department’s inspector general to “review” the role his family members have played there, tweeting Friday evening that he has been “under attack.” […]

The HUD secretary tweeted Friday that given the questions about his family’s ethics, “I have openly asked for an Independent Investigation to put to rest these unfounded biases.”

The tweet included a reference to a line from the book of Exodus: “The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.”

As of now, there’s been no official confirmation that the HUD inspector general will launch an investigation – though with Carson formally requesting a probe, it’s likely the matter will receive scrutiny from within the agency. That said, if Carson’s alleged conflict-of-interest controversy is investigated, he’ll have all kinds of company.

As we discussed in early December, for example, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s actions have become the subject of more than one official investigation. There was also HHS Secretary Tom Price, who was also under investigation, right up until the scandal forced his resignation.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is under investigation. VA Secretary David Shulkin is under investigation. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley was investigated for violating the Hatch Act. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has been caught up in so many controversies, it’s been difficult to keep up with all of them.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, of course, has faced accusations of lying under oath about his interactions with Russian officials during the campaign.

And that’s just Donald Trump’s cabinet.

The president himself, of course, is under investigation, and four members of his team have either been criminally indicted or have already pleaded guilty to charges as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

For an administration that’s barely been in office for a year, this is an astonishingly long list. I seem to recall campaign chatter in 2016 that if Hillary Clinton were elected, Americans would grow weary from all the scandals and investigations.

Those concerns are almost quaint in retrospect.

Ben Carson and Cabinet

Ben Carson voluntarily requests HUD probe of his ethics mess