Fringe outlets, forums, fake news purveyors, and right-wing media outlets incorrectly credited House and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson for an audit that found errors in financial statements at the agency. Carson had nothing to do with the audit, which was actually conducted during former President Barack Obama’s administration by the Office of the Inspector General.
Audit Finds Errors In HUD Accounting
HUD Audit Discovered Errors In Financial Statements. According to an audit released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in fiscal years 2015 and 2016, “The total amount of errors corrected in HUD’s notes and consolidated financial statements were $516.4 billion and $3.4 billion, respectively.” From the March 1 audit:
In accordance with the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990, as amended, we are required to annually audit the consolidated financial statements of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD reissued its fiscal year 2016 and 2015 (Restated) consolidated financial statements due to pervasive material errors that were identified by us. Our objective was to express an opinion on the fairness of HUD’s consolidated financial statements in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles applicable to the Federal Government. This report presents our reissued independent auditor’s report on HUD’s fiscal years 2016 and 2015 (Restated) consolidated financial statements, including an update to our report on HUD’s internal controls.
The total amount of errors corrected in HUD’s notes and consolidated financial statements were $516.4 billion and $3.4 billion, respectively. There were several other unresolved audit matters, which restricted our ability to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to express an opinion. [HUD’s Fiscal Years 2016 and 2015 (Restated) Consolidated Financial Statements Audit (Reissued), 3/1/17]
Fringe Forums, Fake News Purveyors, And Conservative Outlets Credited Carson For Finding Errors
4chan And Reddit Threads Credited Carson For The Audit. Threads on the anonymous forums 4chan and Reddit lavished praise on HUD Secretary Ben Carson following the audit. One 4chan thread claimed that “Ben Carson just uncovered $500 BILLION in fraud/mismanagement in HUD.” A Reddit thread said: “Ben Carson just audited Obama's HUD and found $520 billion in accounting errors and fraud.” [4chan, 4/5/17, 4/6/17, 4/6/17, 4/7/17, 4/7/17; Reddit, 4/6/17, 4/7/17]
Daily Wire And Infowars: “Carson Ordered An Audit Of The Agency” And Found “$520 Billion In Bookkeeping Errors.” According to FactCheck.org, The Daily Wire was the first to pick up the claim that “Carson ordered an audit of the agency” and “what he found was staggering: $520 billion in bookkeeping errors.” The Daily Wire piece was also reprinted by Infowars. From the April 6 Daily Wire post:
Ben Carson was the first neurosurgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins, so, he's kind of a super hero.
But apparently, he's also not a bad accountant.
President Trump picked Carson to head the Department of Housing and Urban
Development, whose budget grew by leaps and bounds under Barack Obama.
In one of his first acts as HUD Secretary, Carson ordered an audit of the agency. What he found was staggering: $520 billion in bookkeeping errors. [The Daily Wire, 4/6/17; Infowars, 4/6/17; FactCheck.org, 4/19/17]
RedState: Carson’s Audit Found “$520 Billion In Bookkeeping Errors Made By The Previous Administration.” Conservative website RedState wrote that “one of Carson’s first big moves in the department was to audit HUD,” which “revealed that $520 billion in bookkeeping errors were made by the previous administration.” From the April 6 article:
One of Carson’s first big moves in the department was to audit HUD, which grew drastically under the Obama administration.
In the report, it was revealed that $520 billion in bookkeeping errors were made by the previous administration.
“The total amounts of errors corrected in HUD’s notes and consolidated financial statements were $516.4 billion and $3.4 billion, respectively,” the auditor report stated. [RedState, 4/6/17]
Gateway Pundit: Carson “Dug Into" The Agency's Records In A “Sweeping Audit.” Gateway Pundit asserted that “Dr. Carson dug into” HUD's "records in a sweeping audit wherein he found substantial bookkeeping ‘errors’” due to “fraud and mismanagement in the government agency.” From the April 6 article (emphasis original):
The mainstream media has neglected to report on a BIG find by Dr. Ben Carson. The Trump cabinet is a winning cabinet.
Dr. Carson dug into the agencies (sic) records in a sweeping audit wherein he found substantial bookkeeping “errors”, which only prove either the incompetence or the corrupt nature of the previous administration led by former-president, Barack Obama.
The HUD report found $500 billion in fraud and mismanagement in the government agency.
So far the Trump administration has had opposition from the left and the mainstream media. This is just another example of the terrible reporting you can find from their mouthpieces. [The Gateway Pundit, 4/6/17]
CBN: “Carson Discovered More Than $500 Billion In Errors In His Audit.” The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) claimed that Carson “discovered more than $500 billion in errors in his audit of the Obama administration's Housing and Urban Development budget.” From the April 8 article:
Dr. Ben Carson discovered more than $500 billion in errors in his audit of the Obama administration's Housing and Urban Development budget.
One of the first things Carson did after being confirmed as Secretary of HUD was to go through the Obama administration's budget with a surgeon's precision. It wasn't long until he found a big problem. [Christian Broadcasting Network, 4/8/17]
Fake News Purveyors
TruthFeed: Carson Found That “Obama’s HUD Was Inept And Responsible For BILLIONS In Fraud.” Fake news purveyor TruthFeed wrote in an April 6 article that Carson found that “Barack Obama’s HUD was inept and responsible for BILLIONS in Fraud.” From the April 6 post (emphasis original):
Remember when Democrats complained that Ben Carson was “unqualified” to run HUD?
It turns out the Brain Surgeon only needed a small amount of his cognitive powers to immediately know one thing.
Barack Obama’s HUD was inept and responsible for BILLIONS in Fraud.
Obama cooking the books? Who would of (sic) thought?
Political Insider: “Carson Found Massive, Unthinkable Errors” At HUD. Fake news purveyor Political Insider asserted that “Dr. Carson found massive, unthinkable errors” at HUD, “and that should silence his critics that he couldn’t do his job.” From the April 6 post (emphasis original):
Democrats were hating that President Trump added Dr. Ben Carson to his cabinet, and they were even more angry when they realized he was being placed in charge of Housing of Urban Development.
Carson has gone into that agency and just discovered one of the biggest bookkeeping errors probably in American government history… if you assume it’s only an “error.”
Dr. Carson found massive, unthinkable errors and that should silence his critics that he couldn’t do his job. But of course, it won’t. They’re liberals, after all. [The Political Insider, 4/6/17; Media Matters, 12/14/16]
Angry Patriot: “Carson Has Uncovered $500 Billion In Fraud” At HUD. Fake news purveyor Angry Patriot claimed that “Carson has uncovered over $500 billion in fraud linked to the Obama administration” at HUD. From the April 7 post:
Democrats were desperate to prevent Dr. Ben Carson from being confirmed as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and we now know why. Dr. Carson has uncovered over $500 billion in fraud linked to the Obama administration.
Dr. Carson was able to uncover this staggering fraud despite being blocked at every turn by agencies within HUD. He discovered that the department was not keeping appropriate account of their finances, which created problems in previous assets. [The Angry Patriot, 4/7/17; Media Matters, 12/14/16]
Right Wing News: Carson “Ordered An Audit On” HUD And Found “$520 Billion … In Bookkeeping ‘Mistakes.’” Fake news purveyor Right Wing News claimed, “Carson had ordered an audit on the agency and what he found was astonishing: $520 billion cost in bookkeeping ‘mistakes.’” From the April 8 post:
Ben Carson has been doing a commendable job so far in his Trump appointed position and as his first act at HUD, he’s made sure to clean house to discover exactly what the last guy was doing…and he has.
President Trump chose Carson to take the lead and be head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. A department of the federal government whose budget somehow, and for some reason, grew tremendously while Barack Obama was ‘leading’ the country.
Carson had ordered an audit on the agency and what he found was astonishing: $520 billion cost in bookkeeping ‘mistakes’. It’s not like we didn’t know it was happening. If the government does one thing right, it’s cheating the American people out of their hard earned money and wasting it on God knows what. [Right Wing News, 4/8/17; Media Matters, 12/14/16]
Carson Wasn’t Responsible For The Audit That Uncovered The Errors
FactCheck.org: “The OIG, Not Carson, Was Responsible For The Audit.” According to a fact check from FactCheck.org, “the [Office of the Inspector General], not Carson, was responsible for the audit” that found the errors. The post noted that Carson wasn’t confirmed as HUD secretary until “one day after the OIG published an updated report providing the total value of the errors,” adding that “as the report noted, the OIG first notified HUD officials last year of issues it found during a routine review required by federal law. That was long before Carson became secretary.” From the April 19 fact check:
Readers have repeatedly asked us if Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson initiated an audit of HUD’s financial statements and found more than $500 billion in accounting errors made by the Obama administration.
That may be because an article published April 6 by the conservative Daily Wire, and republished or cited by other websites, wrongly credited Carson with uncovering the accounting mistakes.
Actually, the errors were discovered during an annual audit started in 2016 by HUD’s Office of the Inspector General, which has been headed by David A. Montoya since December 2011.
According to its website, the OIG, which has a separate budget from HUD, works independently from the department in an effort to “promote efficiency and effectiveness in programs and operations; detect and deter fraud and abuse; investigate allegations of misconduct by HUD employees; and review and make recommendations regarding existing and proposed legislation and regulations affecting HUD.”
President Donald Trump nominated Carson, a former neurosurgeon and Republican presidential candidate, to serve as HUD secretary in December, but the Senate did not confirm Carson to the post until March 2 — one day after the OIG published an updated report providing the total value of the errors.
“HUD reissued its fiscal years 2016 and 2015 (restated) consolidated financial statements due to pervasive material errors that we identified,” the report said.
“The total amounts of errors corrected in HUD’s notes and consolidated financial statements were $516.4 billion and $3.4 billion, respectively.”
But, as the report noted, the OIG first notified HUD officials last year of issues it found during a routine review required by federal law. That was long before Carson became secretary.
The bottom line: the OIG, not Carson, was responsible for the audit that led to the correction of over $500 billion in bookkeeping errors by HUD during the Obama administration. Carson wasn’t in office when OIG initiated the audit and the secretary has no authority over the independent IG office. [FactCheck.org, 4/19/17]