Trump taps Ben Carson for HUD secretary
(CNN) — Dr. Ben Carson will be nominated as the next secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Trump transition team announced Monday.
“I am thrilled to nominate Dr. Ben Carson as our next Secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development,” President-elect Donald Trump said in a statement.
“Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities. We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities. Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a Presidency representing all Americans. He is a tough competitor and never gives up.”
The secretary of housing and urban development oversees federal public housing programs and helps formulate policy on homelessness and housing discrimination. As is the case with all cabinet secretaries, Carson needs to be confirmed by the Senate.
Carson had signaled he would be named to the job Wednesday afternoon, posting on Facebook that an announcement about his forthcoming role in the administration was forthcoming.
“After serious discussions with the Trump transition team, I feel that I can make a significant contribution particularly to making our inner cities great for everyone,” he wrote. “We have much work to do in strengthening every aspect of our nation and ensuring that both our physical infrastructure and our spiritual infrastructure is solid.”
Trump praised Carson as a “greatly talented person” in a tweet two weeks ago when he announced he was considering Carson for the HUD position.
“I am seriously considering Dr. Ben Carson as the head of HUD. I’ve gotten to know him well — he’s a greatly talented person who loves people!” Trump tweeted.
Carson’s name had been attached to multiple cabinet-level positions throughout the transition process, most significantly the position of Health and Human Services secretary. But according to Carson aide Armstrong Williams, the veteran neurosurgeon turned down an offer of that position due to his lack of experience running a federal agency.
“He’s never run an agency and it’s a lot to ask. He’s a neophyte and that’s not his strength,” Williams said.
Carson was one of the large field of Republican presidential candidates last year. He enjoyed an early surge in the polls after he announced his campaign in May 2015. He ran mostly on his biography rather than policy. He bowed out of the race after a disappointing finish on Super Tuesday.
Carson portrayed himself as a troubled youth who overcame adversity to become a talented surgeon, and said he once tried to stab someone when he was 14 years old. A CNN report raised questions about Carson’s claims that he was angry and violent as a teenager.
Trump, meanwhile, derided him as “super low energy” during the primary battle. But Carson endorsed Trump shortly after he dropped out of the contest, becoming only the second former Republican candidate to do so after Gov. Chris Christie.
Carson’s unsuccessful primary campaign was punctuated by rookie blunders and odd claims, including that the Egyptian pyramids were used to store grain.
“The pyramids were made in a way that they had hermetically sealed compartments,” he said. “You wouldn’t need hermetically sealed compartments for a sepulcher. You would need that if you were trying to preserve grain for a long period of time.”
The job of HUD secretary became vital after the 2008 housing crisis. President Barack Obama’s first pick for the job, Shaun Donovan, oversaw the nearly $14 billion that HUD received from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, known as the stimulus.
Donovan left the job in 2014 and was replaced by Julian Castro, then mayor of San Antonio.
The housing secretary also oversees programs that administer mortgage insurance to prospective homeowners and give rental subsidies to lower-income families.