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."

West Lafayette
Scattered Clouds
62° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 62°
Kokomo
Broken Clouds
61° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 61°
Rensselaer
Scattered Clouds
59° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 59°
Fowler
Scattered Clouds
59° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 59°
Williamsport
Scattered Clouds
62° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 62°
Crawfordsville
Overcast
60° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 60°
Frankfort
Overcast
64° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 64°
Delphi
Broken Clouds
60° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 60°
Monticello
Broken Clouds
60° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 60°
Logansport
Overcast
61° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 61°
Dry Conditions To Continue
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 67857

Reported Deaths: 2975
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion14710719
Lake7037269
Elkhart458276
Allen3611157
St. Joseph311479
Hamilton2489104
Cass17509
Hendricks1742105
Vanderburgh170012
Johnson1648118
Porter117439
Tippecanoe109411
Clark107545
Madison84265
LaPorte82929
Kosciusko81612
Howard80464
Marshall74222
Bartholomew73847
Floyd68444
Monroe68430
Noble63528
Delaware63352
Boone63246
Dubois62412
Hancock61637
Jackson5514
LaGrange54210
Shelby50926
Warrick50230
Grant49629
Vigo46810
Dearborn46128
Morgan41832
Henry36118
Clinton3523
White34510
Montgomery33821
Lawrence32627
Wayne3159
Decatur31332
Harrison28922
Miami2582
Scott24710
Daviess24319
Greene23834
DeKalb2214
Putnam2218
Jennings20712
Franklin20510
Jasper2032
Steuben1993
Gibson1984
Ripley1887
Perry17112
Starke1647
Orange16324
Wabash1583
Posey1570
Fayette1547
Jefferson1492
Whitley1486
Fulton1442
Carroll1422
Wells1312
Knox1290
Huntington1183
Washington1151
Spencer1133
Newton10910
Tipton1065
Randolph1024
Clay975
Jay820
Adams812
Rush794
Owen781
Sullivan751
Pulaski711
Brown701
Fountain632
Benton600
Blackford532
Ohio504
Parke451
Pike450
Switzerland430
Crawford420
Martin420
Vermillion380
Union320
Warren191
Unassigned0200

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events