HUD Secretary Ben Carson, responding to reports of potential federal ethics violations relating to the work of his private-sector son, has requested an inspector general's "review," adding via Twitter he is "under attack by the media."
The ethics questions surround a "listening tour" organized by Ben Carson Jr. at his father's direction, where invitees had business ties to the son's private-equity firm and his wife's consulting business, a lawyer wrote in a memo obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, according to The Washington Post.
"We have received the secretary’s request for review," Darryl Madden, HUD inspector general spokesman, told the Post.
Merlynn Carson, Ben Carson's daughter-in-law, responded to reports her firm received a $485,000 federal contract without "a competitive bidding process," writing in a LinkedIn post, multiple bids were indeed considered via "oral presentations."
"The contract mentioned in the article was, in fact, competitively awarded under the government's authority to make award decisions based on an oral presentation," she wrote. "Oral presentations are similar to 'Shark Tank' presentations that require preparation, hard work, and tenacity. Congress gave Federal agencies the authority to use oral presentations as a vendor selection method to reduce bureaucracy and save taxpayer money, and Myriddian was selected for this contract as a result of such an oral competition."
Mrs. Carson added the Post understood this, but chose to run political "hit pieces" attacking the family anyway.
"The Washington Post article, in a blatant effort to damage me and my family . . . demonstrate shoddy reporting, uninformed sources, a lack of journalistic integrity, or perhaps all three combined," she wrote.
". . . While it is permissible for Myriddian and other 8(a) companies to receive government contracts valued under $4 Million 'without a competitive process,' it is simply incorrect to say that there was no competitive process in the award of the contract referenced by the Washington Post. . . . Because The Washington Post is an institution that has been a fixture of the community for decades, I do not believe that these facts could have escaped the Washington Post, as I have seen articles written by them that address various government procurement processes and the programs that exist for small businesses. . . .
"Frankly, I find it incredibly insulting that my ability to win contracts is being called into question simply due to the fact that I have a family member leading an entirely separate government agency. Inaccurate, baseless reports, such as the Washington Post article not only unduly tarnish our reputation, but also unfairly belittle the many, many hours of work effort that my team and I put into writing the proposals that win us the contracts we are awarded.
"Once again, I have been targeted simply because of the fact that I am related to my father-in-law, and not because of anything that either he or I have actually done. . . . I would like to urge journalists to take their time to fact check their stories in the future rather than proliferating sensationalist fake news."
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