The results of Freedom of Information Act requests for Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson’s daily schedules are finally in. It’s not clear why a FOIA request was even needed to retrieve the work schedules of a taxpayer-funded office headed by a taxpayer-funded federal employee, but NBC News reports filer American Oversight has described the effort as a chore. It had to file suit to pry the records from HUD, and even when they were provided they were a haphazard “jumble.”
As for what we can actually learn from the records that HUD tried so hard not to provide, the main takeaway appears to be the expected one: HUD is hardly a hub of buzzing activity during Ben Carson’s tenure. The senior HUD team only meets once a week. Carson works a full Friday only about one-third of the time, at best; other Fridays are either off or spent as half-days. He, like Donald Trump, is often off to Palm Beach by Friday afternoons for a long weekend at his South Florida mansion. Unlike Trump (and numerous other Trump cabinet officials), he hasn’t demanded he take those flights at taxpayer expense.
Oh, and he lunched with “My Pillow” founder Michael Lindell, another self-made millionaire turned unlikely conservative star. That would have been an interesting conversation.
In general, Carson’s role at HUD has been in caretaker capacity, overseeing the rollback of previous HUD goals and programs as the White House proposes ever-greater cuts to his agency. The agency is suffering from a backlog of health and safety complaints and career staffers have been retiring or resigning as Team Trump attempts to raise rents, soften anti-segregation measures, and limit Puerto Rico disaster assistance. He has made few waves in an administration that has bounced from cabinet scandal to cabinet scandal.
Say what you want about that, but it provides for quite a few Fridays off. So there’s that.