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Ben Carson says Rep. Katie Porter asked ‘Ha! Gotcha!’ questions. She said it was ‘not a joke’

Porter: ‘Start by sending me answers for the American people, not cookies’

Rep. Katie Porter garnered headlines when Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson answered her question about REOs: “Oreo?” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Katie Porter garnered headlines when Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson answered her question about REOs: “Oreo?” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Katie Porter sparred with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson on Twitter on Wednesday after Carson dismissed his headline-grabbing misunderstanding during testimony as “silly.”

Carson was accused of incompetence in May while testifying to the House Financial Services Committee when he did not recognize a common abbreviation used to describe government-owned foreclosed properties. 

[Federal money hasn’t reached disaster victims]

When Porter asked Carson about the foreclosure process for homes purchased with Federal Housing Authority loans, she asked whether he knew the term REO.

“An Oreo?” he replied.

Asked about the dustup in an interview with ABC News this week, Carson dismissed it as “silly” and accused Porter of asking “gotcha” questions.

[Puerto Rico disaster aid delay could renew Democratic suspicions of Trump’s stonewalling]

“It’s silly, you know when we engage in ‘Ha! Gotcha!’ stuff when we have such big policy issues to deal with, and that’s what I want to talk about,” Carson said.

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Carson argued the more typical term for REOs is “foreclosed properties,” and likened their back-and-forth to “your mama” jokes.

Carson said he did not want to “get into the weeds of ‘you’re evil,’ ‘you’re incompetent,’ ‘you can’t do this,’ ‘your mama sucks,’ you know? Give me a break.”

But the California Democrat hit back on Twitter, urging that “this is not a joke for the families losing their homes.”

Carson originally attempted to deflect from the controversy by sending Oreos to the freshman congresswoman’s office, but was met with resistance from Porter. 

“Next time you send something to my office, start by sending me answers for the American people, not cookies. This is not a joke for the families losing their homes,” Porter said. 

The congresswoman has not received any communication from the FHA in response to her questions about foreclosed properties and FHA-backed loans in the two weeks since Carson’s testimony, a spokesman confirmed.

An Urban Institute study found in 2018 that the way the FHA processes properties in foreclosure results in “avoidable delays, costs, and losses” that result in “depressed property values, neighborhood blight and reduced access to FHA credit for future borrowers.”

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