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HUD employee accuses Ben Carson of 'smear campaign' against whistleblower

A Department of Housing and Urban Development employee is coming to the defense of a whistleblower whose sworn compla...

Posted: Mar 6, 2018 7:22 PM
Updated: Mar 6, 2018 7:22 PM

A Department of Housing and Urban Development employee is coming to the defense of a whistleblower whose sworn complaint threw HUD into the spotlight last week, and making new allegations against the agency.

Marcus Smallwood, the director of Records and Information Management, wrote a blistering open letter to Secretary Ben Carson Tuesday, accusing him of participating in a "smear campaign" against staffer Helen Foster.

In a sworn November 2017 complaint that surfaced last week, Foster alleged she was demoted in part for refusing to spend more than was legally allowed to redecorate Carson's new office. On March 22, 2017, just 20 days into Carson's tenure at HUD, Foster says she received a perfect score on an employee review, but four months later, she said she was demoted and reassigned to oversee privacy and Freedom of Information Act requests.

Smallwood claimed that Carson contributed to a "smear campaign" against Foster with comments last week, including saying that her claims are unsubstantiated.

"Thank you to so many who have expressed concern for me and my family over the latest accusations. Rest assured that there has been no dishonesty or wrongdoing by us," Carson wrote on his personal Facebook and Twitter accounts last week. "All the numbers and evidence are being gathered and a full disclosure is forthcoming. We suspect, based on past attempts, that they will continue to probe and make further accusations even without evidence or substantiation. We will continue to ask for God's guidance to do what is right."

But HUD's spokesman Raffi Williams said that agency officials haven't officially commented on Foster's allegations, adding that it is HUD's policy to not comment on pending cases against the agency.

And although he provided a statement to CNN last week after Foster's allegations went public, Williams told CNN he "commented on what was spent on blinds for the Secretary's office, not on Ms. Foster's complaint itself."

"The social media posts you reference do not constitute an official response from the agency," Williams added.

In his letter, Smallwood demands to know when Carson will apologize to Foster and reinstate her in her role at HUD.

"Helen Foster is not the only person at HUD that has been persecuted in this witch-hunt under your watch," Smallwood wrote. "She is the only person who has been brave enough to stand on principle and put her career, reputation, and livelihood on the line."

Williams said Foster is expected to return to HUD after her detail with the Treasury Department is complete. He added that the agency is complying with the Office of Special Counsel, which is looking into Foster's complaint.

Foster tells CNN she made the transfer request due to retaliation against her at HUD.

Smallwood also made additional accusations about the climate at the agency.

"The rest of us have operated in fear," Smallwood said. "I have had my subordinates and peers also suffer from retribution as leadership has run this campaign against Helen."

Smallwood argued that multiple HUD employees or new hires had "job selections withdrawn after accepting verbal offers for no other reason (that I can see), then that they were or would become subordinates of Helen."

He accused HUD of compromising the process in which the agency responds to FOIA requests. He claimed he was pressured to process requests of "political nature in a fashion different from the normal process" and approve overtime to employees handling those requests.

HUD responded to Smallwood's accusation that the agency often receives FOIAs of a political nature "and they are handled in our normal process."

In a letter addressed to Carson last week, House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy requested HUD turn over all documents and communications related to Foster dating back to August 2017 and Carson's office redecoration dating back to the beginning of last year.

Smallwood wrote in his letter that he does "not have confidence that HUD can truthfully provide the evidence" to the committee by next Wednesday, the deadline the committee gave to HUD.

He said that "there has been a concerted effort to stop email traffic regarding these matters prior to August 1" and recommended that the House committee search emails going back to December 1, 2016 regarding Foster.

In response to that accusation, Williams said: "The House Oversight Committee will receive a complete response to their query. We can assure you that email traffic at HUD did not cease on August 1."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1462456

Reported Deaths: 20308
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion2005922494
Lake992001456
Allen903391005
Hamilton70705539
St. Joseph63078746
Elkhart48098622
Vanderburgh46217523
Tippecanoe42115330
Johnson37119516
Hendricks35078455
Porter33900460
Madison28036530
Clark25186321
Vigo24768341
LaPorte22894307
Monroe22201243
Howard21344372
Delaware20937363
Hancock18289217
Kosciusko17513199
Bartholomew17399212
Warrick16060212
Wayne15757296
Floyd15399252
Grant14898293
Morgan13934230
Boone13172136
Noble11421140
Dearborn11355112
Henry11312201
Shelby11231150
Marshall11041166
Dubois10782152
Jackson10174104
DeKalb9944128
Cass9942142
Lawrence9914219
Huntington9823139
Gibson9131125
Montgomery9005140
Knox8762124
Harrison8718111
Whitley844771
Steuben8340102
Jasper8069113
Putnam795197
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Jefferson7551124
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Adams6508101
Scott629086
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Clay587173
Wells5814120
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Jennings572276
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Posey529146
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Randolph4925128
Washington482067
Owen480398
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Spencer438156
Starke434086
Sullivan432164
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Newton228359
Brown222654
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Switzerland189414
Martin181921
Warren169520
Union163619
Ohio119516
Unassigned0742

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2403645

Reported Deaths: 30922
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin2596932036
Cuyahoga2572672998
Hamilton1666711699
Montgomery1103831586
Summit1066861382
Lucas895171149
Butler78647924
Stark747301383
Lorain62885783
Warren49934468
Mahoning49735909
Lake46850586
Clermont43541428
Delaware38876210
Trumbull38576748
Medina37611416
Licking36901401
Fairfield33848331
Greene32124416
Portage31381356
Clark30277440
Richland28251420
Wood27660289
Allen24372392
Miami22806389
Muskingum22298244
Columbiana22095399
Wayne21275354
Tuscarawas18847423
Erie18041221
Ashtabula17932338
Marion17503231
Scioto16553203
Ross16163249
Pickaway15536173
Hancock15251227
Geauga15244221
Lawrence13847186
Huron13399182
Union1329683
Belmont13255247
Jefferson12864257
Sandusky12770197
Athens11949106
Knox11511195
Seneca11454200
Ashland10795174
Darke10673196
Washington10564168
Auglaize10152141
Crawford9854175
Shelby9699155
Brown9400140
Fulton9235148
Guernsey9109115
Defiance9057134
Highland9035143
Logan8955141
Clinton8719121
Mercer8640111
Madison8568104
Preble8002160
Williams7848135
Putnam7731135
Ottawa7629120
Champaign7556112
Jackson7383114
Perry714598
Coshocton7043136
Morrow694580
Fayette662287
Hardin6219125
Pike617086
Gallia594989
Adams5779124
Van Wert5779120
Henry565592
Hocking5521103
Carroll4828100
Wyandot482289
Holmes4747161
Paulding401163
Meigs375071
Monroe299368
Noble279851
Harrison279461
Morgan276848
Vinton239845
Unassigned08
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