Housing secretary Ben Carson confuses foreclosure process with Oreos


He acted like he had never heard of a term that's a basic part of his job.

Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson got tripped up Tuesday afternoon when Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) asked him about a common foreclosure term — and Carson thought she was referring to Oreo cookies.

Porter asked Carson what should have been a simple question for the Cabinet official in charge of housing policy: "Do you know what an REO is?"

The resulting back and forth showed just how out of his depth Carson is in his job.

Porter: Do you know what an REO is?

Carson: An Oreo...

Porter: No, not an Oreo. An REO.

Carson: Real Estate...

Porter: What's the "O" stand for?

Carson: Organization?

Porter: Owned. Real Estate Owned.

Porter went on to explain to Carson that REO, or real estate owned, is a term used when a property goes into foreclosure, before delving into her actual question about why loans through the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) go to foreclosure more quickly than similar loans from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

Porter, who was a law professor before becoming a member of Congress, had to teach Trump's housing secretary about a basic housing term before she could even get to her question.

Porter seemed surprised after the hearing and expressed her disbelief at the interaction with Carson on Twitter.

"I asked @SecretaryCarson about REOs — a basic term related to foreclosure — at a hearing today. He thought I was referring to a chocolate sandwich cookie," Porter said. "No, really."

The hearing came only a few days after a Government Accountability Office investigation found Carson broke the law when he paid more than $31,000 for a dining table set for his office.

The interaction with Porter was likely Carson's most embarrassing moment of the day, but may not have been the worst. Earlier in the hearing, Carson defended a plan to leave 55,000 children homeless.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.