Carson's parents were Robert Solomon Carson Jr. (1914–1992), a World War II U.S. Army veteran, and Sonya Carson (née Copeland, 1928–2017). Robert Carson was a Baptist minister, but he later became a Cadillac automobile plant laborer. Both his parents came from large families in rural Georgia, and they were living in rural Tennessee when they met and married. Carson's mother was 13 and his father was 28 when they married, and after his father finished his military service, they moved from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Detroit, where they lived in a large house in the Indian Village neighborhood. Carson's older brother, Curtis, was born in 1949, when his mother was 20. In 1950, Carson's parents purchased a new 733-square foot single-family detached home on Deacon Street in the Boynton neighborhood in southwest Detroit. Carson was born in Detroit, Michigan, on September 18, 1951.
Benjamin Solomon Carson Sr. (born September 18, 1951) is an American politician, author, and retired neurosurgeon who served as the 17th United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 2017 to 2021. He was a candidate for President of the United States in the 2016 Republican primaries. He is considered a pioneer in the field of neurosurgery.
Carson's Detroit Public Schools education began in 1956 with kindergarten at the Fisher School and continued through first, second, and the first half of third grade, during which time he was an average student. When Carson was five, his mother learned that his father had a prior family and had not divorced his first wife. In 1959, when Carson was eight, his parents separated and he moved with his mother and brother to live for two years with his mother's Seventh-day Adventist older sister and her sister's husband in multi-family dwellings in the Dorchester and Roxbury neighborhoods of Boston. In Boston, Carson's mother attempted suicide, had several psychiatric hospitalizations for depression, and for the first time began working outside the home as a domestic worker, while Carson and his brother attended a two-classroom school at the Berea Seventh-day Adventist church where two teachers taught eight grades, and the vast majority of time was spent singing songs and playing games.
In 1961, when Carson was ten, he moved with his mother and brother back to southwest Detroit, where they lived in a multi-family dwelling in a primarily white neighborhood, (Springwells Village), across the railroad tracks from the Delray neighborhood, while renting out their house on Deacon Street, which his mother received in a divorce settlement. When they returned to Detroit public schools, Carson and his brother's academic performance initially lagged far behind their new classmates, having, according to Carson, "essentially lost a year of school" by attending the small Seventh-day Adventist parochial school in Boston, but they both improved when their mother limited their time watching television and required them to read and write book reports on two library books per week. Carson attended the predominantly white Higgins Elementary School for fifth and sixth grades and the predominantly white Wilson Junior High School for seventh and the first half of eighth grade. In 1965, when Carson was 13, he moved with his mother and brother back to their house on Deacon Street. He attended the predominantly black Hunter Junior High School for the second half of eighth grade. When he was eight, Carson had dreamed of becoming a missionary doctor, but five years later he aspired to the lucrative lifestyles of psychiatrists portrayed on television, and his brother bought him a subscription to Psychology Today for his 13th birthday.
Carson has said that he protected white students in a biology lab after a race riot broke out at his high school in response to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. The Wall Street Journal confirmed the riot but could not find anyone who remembered Carson sheltering white students.
Carson does not say in his books whether he received a college student deferment during the Vietnam War. He does say that his older brother, then a student at the University of Michigan, received a low number (26) in the first draft lottery in 1969 and was able to enlist in the Navy for four years instead of being drafted, whereas he received a high number (333) in the second draft lottery in 1970. Carson said he would have readily accepted his responsibility to fight had he been drafted, but he "identified strongly with the anti-war protesters and the revolutionaries" and enthusiastically voted for anti-war Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern in 1972. In his book, America the Beautiful (2012), Carson said: "The Vietnam War was, in retrospect, not a noble conflict. It brought shame to our nation because of both the outcome and the cause."
Carson and his wife, fellow Detroit native Lacena "Candy" Rustin, met in 1971 as students at Yale University and married in 1975. They began living in West Friendship, Maryland, in 1988. Together, the couple have three sons (Rhoeyce, Benjamin Jr., and Murray), as well as several grandchildren. Their oldest son, Murray, was born in Perth, Australia, while Carson was undertaking a residency there. In 1981 Carson's wife became pregnant with twins before miscarrying in the fifth month of her pregnancy.
Carson entered the University of Michigan Medical School in 1973, and at first he struggled academically, doing so poorly on his first set of comprehensive exams that his faculty adviser recommended he drop out of medical school or take a reduced academic load and take longer to finish. He continued with a regular academic load, and his grades improved to average in his first year of medical school. By his second year of medical school, Carson began to excel academically by seldom attending lectures and instead studying textbooks and lecture notes from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Carson graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School with an M.D. in 1977, and he was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.
Carson's SAT college admission test scores ranked him somewhere in the low 90th percentile, which according to him resulted in a Detroit Free Press article "Carson Gets Highest SAT Scores in Twenty Years" of any student in Detroit public schools. He wanted to attend college farther away than his brother who was at the University of Michigan. Carson says he narrowed his college choices to Harvard or Yale but could afford the $10 application fee to apply for only one of them. He said he decided to apply to Yale after seeing a team from Yale defeat a team from Harvard on the G.E. College Bowl television show. Carson was accepted by Yale and offered a full scholarship covering tuition, room and board. In 1973, Carson graduated with a B.A. in psychology from Yale "with a fairly respectable grade point average although far from the top of the class".
Carson became the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in 1984 at age 33; he was the youngest chief of pediatric neurosurgery in the United States. At retirement, he was professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery, and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Carson's achievements include participating in the first reported separation of conjoined twins joined at the back of the head. Although surgically a success, the twins continued to suffer neurologic/medical complications. Additional accomplishments include performing the first successful neurosurgical procedure on a fetus inside the womb; developing new methods to treat brain-stem tumors; and revitalizing hemispherectomy techniques for controlling seizures. He wrote over 100 neurosurgical publications. He retired from medicine in 2013.
Carson was then accepted by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine neurosurgery program, where he served one year as a surgical intern and five years as a neurosurgery resident, completing the final year as chief resident in 1983. He then spent one year (1983–1984) as a Senior Registrar in neurosurgery at the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Nedlands, a suburb of Perth, Western Australia.
Upon returning to Johns Hopkins in 1984, Carson was appointed the university's Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery. As a surgeon, he specialized in traumatic brain injuries, brain and spinal cord tumors, achondroplasia, neurological and congenital disorders, craniosynostosis, epilepsy, and trigeminal neuralgia. He has said that his hand–eye coordination and three-dimensional reasoning made him a gifted surgeon.
In 1987, Carson was the lead neurosurgeon of a 70-member surgical team that separated conjoined twins, Patrick and Benjamin Binder, who had been joined at the back of the head (craniopagus twins). The separation surgery held promise in part because the twin boys had separate brains. The Johns Hopkins Children’s Center surgical team rehearsed the surgery for weeks, practicing on two dolls secured together by Velcro. Although there were few follow-up stories following the Binder twins' return to Germany seven months after the operation, both twins were reportedly "far from normal" two years after the procedure, with one in a vegetative state. "I will never get over this ... Why did I have them separated?" said their mother, Theresia Binder, in a 1993 interview. Neither twin was ever able to talk or care for himself, and both eventually became institutionalized wards of the state. Patrick Binder died sometime during the last decade, according to his uncle, who was located by The Washington Post in 2015. The Binder surgery served as a blueprint for similar twin separations, a procedure that was refined in subsequent decades. Carson participated in four subsequent high-risk conjoined twin separations, including a 1997 operation on craniopagus Zambian twins, Joseph and Luka Banda, which resulted in a normal neurological outcome. Two sets of twins died, including Iranian twins Ladan and Laleh Bijani. Another separation resulted in the death of one twin and the survival of the other, who is legally blind and struggles to walk.
Consistent with the practice of many Adventists, Carson is a lacto-ovo vegetarian (he will eat dishes containing milk, eggs, or cheese, and occasionally, poultry). He has said his main reason for becoming vegetarian was health concerns, including avoiding parasites and heart disease, and he emphasizes the environmental benefits of vegetarianism. His transition was made easier because he had eaten little meat for aesthetic reasons as a child, and he readily adopted his wife's vegetarianism because she does much of the cooking in their household. Speaking in 1990, he said that with the increasing availability of meat substitutes, "It might take 20 years. But eventually there will no longer be a reason for most people to eat meat. And animals will breathe a sigh of relief." To avoid causing others discomfort, he is willing to occasionally eat chicken or turkey, although he finds eating pork highly unpleasant.
Carson has written many articles in peer-reviewed journals and six bestselling books published by Zondervan, an international Christian media and publishing company. The first book was an autobiography published in 1992. Two others are about his personal philosophies of success and what he sees as the stabilizing influence of religion.
In 1994, Carson and his wife started the Carson Scholars Fund that awards scholarships to students in grades 4–11 for "academic excellence and humanitarian qualities".
Carson has received numerous honors for his neurosurgery work, including more than 60 honorary doctorate degrees and numerous national merit citations. In 2001, he was named by CNN and TIME magazine as one of the nation's 20 foremost physicians and scientists, and was selected by the Library of Congress as one of 89 "Living Legends" on its 200th anniversary. In 2008, Carson was bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. In 2010, he was elected into the National Academy of Medicine. He was the subject of the 2009 TV film Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, where he was portrayed by Cuba Gooding Jr.
In 2001, Ben and Candy Carson bought a 48-acre property in Upperco, Maryland.
After being diagnosed with prostate cancer, Carson underwent a two-hour operation at the Johns Hopkins Hospital on August 7, 2002.
Recipients of the Carson Scholars Fund receive a $1,000 scholarship towards their college education. It has awarded 6,700 scholarships. In recognition for his work with the Carson Scholars Fund and other charitable giving throughout his lifetime, Carson was awarded the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership in 2005.
According to CNN, Carson had an "extensive relationship" from 2004 to 2014 with Mannatech, a multi-level marketing company that produces dietary supplements made from substances such as aloe vera extract and larch-tree bark. Carson gave four paid speeches at company events. He has denied being paid by Mannatech to do anything else, saying he has been a "prolific speaker" who has addressed many groups. In a 2004 speech, he credited the company's products with the disappearance of his prostate cancer symptoms. The nature of this relationship became an issue in 2015 during Carson's presidential campaign. Carson's relationship with Mannatech continued after the company paid $7 million in 2009 to settle a deceptive-marketing lawsuit in Texas over claims that its products could cure autism and cancer. His most recent paid speech for the company was in 2013, for which he was paid $42,000. His image appeared on the corporation's website in 2014, and in the same year, he praised their "glyconutrient" supplements in a PBS special that was subsequently featured on the site.
Carson delivered the keynote address at a Mannatech distributor convention in 2011, during which he said the company had donated funds to help him obtain a coveted endowed-chair post at Johns Hopkins Medicine: "... three years ago I had an endowed chair bestowed upon me and uh, it requires $2.5 million to do an endowed chair, and I'm proud to say that part of that $2.5 million came from Mannatech." In October 2015, Carson's campaign team said "there was no contribution from Mannatech to Johns Hopkins", and his statement had been "a legitimate mistake on his part. Confusion. He had been doing some fundraising for the hospital and some other chairs about that time, and he simply got things mixed up."
In 2013, Carson, his wife, and Carson's mother moved to West Palm Beach, Florida.
Carson, who had been registered as a Republican, changed his registration to independent in the 1990s after watching Republicans impeach President Clinton for perjury regarding an extramarital affair with Monica Lewinsky. "I just saw so much hypocrisy in both parties," he said. In February 2013, Carson said he was not a member of any political party.
Carson was the keynote speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 7, 2013. The speech garnered Carson considerable attention because the event is normally apolitical in nature, and the speech was critical of the philosophy and policies of President Barack Obama, who was sitting 10 feet away. About the speech, Carson said: "I don't think it was particularly political ... You know, I'm a physician." Regarding the policies of President Obama, he said: "There are a number of policies that I don't believe lead to the growth of our nation and don't lead to the elevation of our nation. I don't want to sit here and say all of his policies are bad. What I would like to see more often in this nation is an open and intelligent conversation."
In March 2013, Carson announced he would retire as a surgeon, saying he would "much rather quit when I'm at the top of my game". His retirement became official on July 1, 2013.
In July 2013, Carson was hired by The Washington Times as a weekly opinion columnist. In October 2013, Fox News hired Carson as a contributor, to provide analysis and commentary across Fox News Channel's daytime and primetime programming, a relationship that lasted until the end of 2014.
Carson's sudden popularity among conservatives led to his being invited as a featured speaker at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). He tied for seventh place in the Washington Times/CPAC 2013 Straw Poll with 4% of the 3,000 ballots cast. In the 2014 CPAC straw poll, he was in third place with 9% of the vote, behind senators Ted Cruz of Texas (with 11%) and Rand Paul of Kentucky (31%). In the presidential straw poll at the 2013 Values Voter Summit, he and Rick Santorum polled 13%, with winner Ted Cruz polling 42%, and in 2014 he polled 20% to Cruz's winning 25%.
In 2014, some House Republicans (who later formed the House Freedom Caucus) approached Carson about the possibility of his standing for Speaker of the House in the event that the incumbent Speaker, John Boehner, had to step down due to intra-party disunion. Carson declined, citing preparations for his 2016 presidential campaign. Ultimately, Boehner resigned in October 2015, and Paul Ryan was elected as the new Speaker.
In keeping with his Seventh-day Adventist faith, Carson announced in 2014 his belief "that the United States will play a big role" in the coming apocalypse. He went on to say, "I hope by that time I'm not around anymore."
In financial disclosure forms, Carson and his wife reported income of between $8.9 million and $27 million from January 2014 to May 3, 2015, when he announced his presidential campaign. Over that period, Carson received over $4 million from 141 paid speeches, between $1.1 million and $6 million in book royalties, between $200,000 and $2 million as a contributor to The Washington Times and Fox News, and between $2 million and $10 million as a member of the boards of Kellogg Co. and Costco Wholesale Corp. He resigned from Costco's board in mid-2015, after serving on it for more than 16 years. Carson was Chairman of the Baltimore-based biotechnology company Vaccinogen from August 2014 until the announcement of his US presidential bid in May 2015. Carson had previously served on Vaccinogen's Medical Advisory Board.
On November 4, 2014, the day of the 2014 midterms, he rejoined the Republican Party, saying it was "truly a pragmatic move" because he was considering running for president in 2016.
In January 2015, The Weekly Standard reported that the Draft Carson Committee had raised $13 million by the end of 2014, shortly after Carson performed well in a CNN/ORC poll of potential candidates in December 2014, coming second in two different versions. He polled 10% to Mitt Romney's 20%, but in the same poll with Romney removed from the list, Carson polled 11% to Jeb Bush's 14%. The Wall Street Journal mentioned that the Draft Carson Committee had chairmen in all of Iowa's 99 counties, and that Carson had recently led two separate Public Policy polls for the state of Pennsylvania.
In his autobiography, Gifted Hands, Carson recounted that exams for a Yale psychology course he took his junior year, "Perceptions 301", were inexplicably burned, forcing students to retake the exam. Carson said other students walked out in protest when they discovered the retest was significantly harder than the original examination, but he alone finished the test. On doing so, Carson said he was congratulated by the course instructor who told him the retest was a hoax intended to find "the most honest student in the class". Carson said the professor awarded him $10 and that a photographer for the Yale Daily News was present to take his picture, which appeared in the student newspaper with a story about the experiment. Doubts were raised about this story in 2015 during Carson's presidential campaign. The Wall Street Journal attempted to verify Carson's account, reporting that Yale undergraduate courses were identified with only two digits in the early 1970s, that Yale had offered no course called "Perceptions 301" at the time, and that Carson's photo had never appeared in the Yale Daily News. Carson, while acknowledging the class number was not correct, said: "You know, when you write a book with a co-writer and you say that there was a class, a lot of [the] time they'll put a number or something just to give it more meat. You know, obviously, decades later, I'm not going to remember the course number."
In his book Gifted Hands, Carson relates that as a youth, he had a violent temper. "As a teenager, I would go after people with rocks, and bricks, and baseball bats, and hammers," Carson told NBC's Meet the Press in October 2015. He said he once tried to hit his mother on the head with a hammer over a clothing dispute, while in the ninth grade he tried to stab a friend who had changed the radio station. Fortunately, the blade broke in his friend's belt buckle. Carson said the intended victim, whose identity he wants to protect, was a classmate, a friend, or a close relative. After this incident, Carson said he began reading the Book of Proverbs and applying verses on anger. As a result, he states he "never had another problem with temper". In his various books and at campaign events, he repeated these stories and said he once attacked a schoolmate with a combination lock. Nine friends, classmates, and neighbors who grew up with him told CNN in 2015 they did not remember the anger or violence he has described. In response, Carson posted on Facebook a 1997 Parade Magazine issue, in which his mother verified the stabbing incident. He then questioned the extent of the effort CNN had exerted in the investigation.
Statements that Carson made regarding foreign policy called into doubt his familiarity with the domain. The New York Times reported in 2015, "Carson has acknowledged being something of a novice on foreign affairs." Regarding the Ukrainian crisis, Carson would send arms to Ukraine to aid it in its fight against pro-Russian rebels. He also believes the Baltic states should "get involved in NATO" (apparently unaware they are NATO members).
Carson gained national fame among political conservatives after delivering a speech at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast which was perceived as critical of the policies of President Barack Obama. Following widespread speculation of a presidential run, Carson officially announced his campaign for the 2016 Republican nomination for President in May 2015. Carson performed strongly in early polls, leading to him being considered a frontrunner for the nomination during the fall of 2015; however, his polling support began to decline following scrutiny of his foreign policy credentials after the November 2015 Paris attacks. Carson withdrew from the race after Super Tuesday, following a string of disappointing primary results, and endorsed Donald Trump. Following Trump's victory, Trump nominated Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, being confirmed by the United States Senate in a 58–41 vote on March 2, 2017. Carson has also been seen as a "symbol" of black conservatism.
On May 2, 2015, Carson proclaimed that in two days he was going to make a major announcement on his decision on whether to enter the Presidential Race. In an interview with Cincinnati TV station WKRC (AM) on May 3, 2015, Carson accidentally confirmed his candidacy for president. The interview was also broadcast live on WPEC. The next day, May 4, 2015, at the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts in his home town of Detroit, he officially announced his run for the Republican nomination in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The announcement speech was preceded by a choir singing "Lose Yourself" with Carson sitting in the audience. After the song, Carson took the stage and announced his candidacy alongside a speech on his rags to riches life story, at one point stating: "I remember when our favorite drug dealer was killed."
In October 2015, the Super PAC supporting Carson, The 2016 Committee (formerly the Draft Carson Committee), announced it had received donations in mostly $100 increments from more than 200 small businesses around the country over the course of one week. Fox Business reported that "Carson's outsider status is growing his small business support base." Ben Walters, a fundraiser for The 2016 Committee, expressed optimism about Carson's small business support base: "It's unbelievable the diversity of businesses that we are bringing on. We are seeing everything from doctors' offices and folks in the healthcare profession to motorcycle repair shops and bed and breakfasts."
During the CNBC GOP debate on October 28, 2015, Carson was asked about his relationship with Mannatech. He replied, "That's easy to answer. I didn't have any involvement with Mannatech. Total propaganda. I did a couple speeches for them. I did speeches for other people—they were paid speeches. It is absolutely absurd to say I had any kind of relation with them. Do I take the product? Yes. I think it is a good product." Politifact rated Carson's denial of any involvement as "false", pointing to his paid speeches for Mannatech and his appearances in promotional videos in which he favorably reviewed its products, despite not being "an official spokesman or sales associate". When the CNBC moderator commented that Carson was on Mannatech's website, Carson replied that he had not given his permission. Earlier, he had said he was unaware of the company's legal history.
In November 2015, Carson's campaign aired a 60-second TV advertisement in which excerpts from Carson's stump speech were intercut with a rap by an artist named Aspiring Mogul. They spent $150,000 on the ads, which were aired in Atlanta, Detroit and Miami. Carson defended the ad, saying "Well, there are people in the campaign who felt that was a good way to do things ... I support them in doing that, but I probably would have taken a little different approach." Later, he said the advertisement was done without his knowledge, that "it was done by people who have no concept of the black community and what they were doing", and that he was "horrified" by it.
In a November 2015 Republican debate, Carson declared his intentions to make ISIS "look like losers" as he would "destroy their caliphate". Carson also advocated capturing a "big energy field" outside of Anbar, Iraq, which he said could be accomplished "fairly easily". Regarding the Middle East, he also claimed that "the Chinese are there", while in contrast, The Guardian reported that "there are no known members of the Chinese armed forces currently engaged in any conflict in the Middle East."
The campaign brought considerable attention to Carson's past. CBS News described Carson's narrative of "overcoming impossible odds as a child growing up in an impoverished, single-parent household to reach international prominence as a pediatric neurosurgeon" as "a key part of his presidential campaign". The Wall Street Journal said the narrative came under "the harsh scrutiny of presidential politics, where rivals and media hunt for embellishments and omissions that can hobble a campaign". CNN characterized the core narrative as "acts of violence as an angry young man", followed by a spiritual epiphany that transformed Carson into the "composed figure" he now portrays. Media challenges to a number of Carson's statements included allegations of discrepancies between documented facts and certain assertions in his autobiography Gifted Hands—allegations dismissed by Carson as a media "witch hunt". In November 2015, the Detroit Free Press republished an article from 1988 "to try to bring some clarity to the claims currently being brought into question".
On November 3, 2015, Mannatech said on its website that for compliance with Federal campaign finance regulations, the company had removed all references to Carson before he announced his bid for the presidency.
On March 11, 2016, a week after Carson ended his presidential campaign, he endorsed Trump, calling him part of "the voice of the people to be heard". Carson's subsequent comments that Americans would have to sustain Trump for only four years if he was not a good president drew criticism, and he admitted that he would have preferred another candidate, though he thought Trump had the best chance of winning the general election. On the other hand, at the press conference Carson said Trump had a "cerebral" side.
In total, Carson received 857,039 votes during the Republican primaries; this total represented 2.75% of the votes cast. He received the support of seven delegates at the Republican National Convention. Trump received the Republican nomination and went on to be elected president on November 8, 2016.
On December 5, 2016, Trump announced that he would nominate Carson to the position of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. During the confirmation process, Carson was scrutinized by some housing advocates for what they perceived as his lack of relevant experience.
Under the federal budget proposed by Trump in 2017, HUD's budget for the fiscal year 2018 would be cut by $6.2 billion (13%) and the Community Development Block Grant, a program which Carson praised in a trip to Detroit as HUD secretary, would be eliminated. Carson issued a statement supporting the proposed cuts. Carson suggested that federal funds for housing in Detroit could be part of an expected infrastructure bill.
On January 24, 2017, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs voted unanimously to approve the nomination. On March 2, 2017, Carson was confirmed by the Senate by a 58–41 vote.
Surrounding his confirmation as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Carson bought a $1.22 million home in Vienna, Virginia, in February 2017 and sold his West Palm Beach home for over $900,000 in May 2017.
In April 2017, while speaking in Washington at the National Low Income Housing Coalition conference, Carson said that housing funding would be included in an upcoming infrastructure bill from the Trump administration.
In July 2017, during his keynote address at the LeadingAge Florida annual convention, Carson stated his concern about "seniors who become destitute" and reported that the Department of Housing and Urban Development had increased public housing programs for the elderly by an unspecified number.
In summer 2017, Carson allowed his son, Baltimore businessman, Ben Carson Jr., to participate in organizing a HUD "listening tour" in Baltimore. Internal documents obtained by The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act showed that the younger Carson "put people he'd invited in touch with his father's deputies, joined agency staff on official conference calls about the listening tour and copied his wife on related email exchanges". The son's involvement prompted HUD staff to express concern; the department's deputy general counsel for operations wrote in a memorandum "that this gave the appearance that the Secretary may be using his position for his son's private gain". Carson's wife, son, and daughter-in-law also attended official meetings. In February 2018, the HUD inspector general's office confirmed that it was looking into the role Carson's family played at the department.
Carson received criticism for spending up to $31,000 on a dining set in his office in late 2017. This expenditure was discovered after Helen Foster, a career HUD official, filed a complaint alleging that she had been demoted from her position because she refused to spend more than the legal $5,000 limit for office redecorations. Carson and his spokesman said that he had little or no involvement in the purchase of the dining set. Later, email communications revealed that Carson and his wife selected the dining set. On March 20, 2018, Carson testified before the United States House Committee on Appropriations that he had "dismissed" himself from the decision to buy the $31,000 dining room set and "left it to my wife, you know, to choose something". On September 12, 2019, HUD's inspector general released a report clearing Carson of misconduct.
During congressional testimony in May 2019, Carson did not know what the term REO ("Real Estate Owned" refers to housing owned by a bank or lending institution post-foreclosure) stood for and confused it with the cookie, Oreo. In response, Carson went on the Fox Business Network where he accused Democrats of adhering to "Saul Alinsky" tactics.
Carson was accused by members of the Department of Housing and Urban Development of making transphobic remarks at a meeting in San Francisco in September 2019. He warned that "big, hairy men" might infiltrate homeless shelters for women, prompting one woman to walk out. Reps. Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts and Jennifer Wexton of Virginia called for his resignation, but Carson said the accusations were a "mischaracterization". A HUD spokesperson responded that Carson "does not use derogatory language to refer to transgendered individuals. Any reporting to the contrary is false."
On March 1, 2020, the office of Vice President Mike Pence announced Carson's addition to the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
On November 9, 2020, Carson tested positive for COVID-19 after attending President Trump's Election Night party. He initially treated himself with a homeopathic oleander extract on the recommendation of Mike Lindell, the founder of My Pillow, Inc., which Carson said caused his symptoms to disappear. Oleander was previously rejected by the Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for COVID-19 and Carson received criticism for promoting an unscientific homeopathic treatment. He disclosed on November 20 that he subsequently became "extremely sick" and attributed his recovery to Regeneron's experimental antibody therapy. He said that President Trump had given him access to the drug.