Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Dr. Ben Carson announced on his Facebook page that advocacy groups were targeting him and his department for allegedly using federal funds to promote religion. However, one of the organizations behind the lawsuit is refuting that charge.
In his Facebook posting
, Dr. Carson wrote: “The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) are apparently filing a lawsuit against HUD and me, alleging that they are being treated unfairly because they are required to pay a standard fee when requesting information through the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) regarding my participation in the weekly Bible study for cabinet members.” Dr. Carson rejected the premise for the lawsuit, adding that “taxpayer funds are not used to support the ministry, and secondly, no staff are involved in the Bible study.”
Dr. Carson also stated, “I will not stop being a Christian while in service to this country, in fact, it is my faith that helps me serve the nation even better. The relentless attacks on the spirituality of our nation must be resisted.”
FFRF made no mention of the lawsuit on its website’s newsroom, but CREW issued a press release
claiming that its FOIA requests were based on press reports that Dr. Carson’s family were having a conspicuous presence at HUD headquarters and that the organization wanted to confirm “the level of their influence on HUD priorities and policy decisions.” CREW's lawsuit also cites a filed FOIA request regarding information on Dr. Carson’s alleged use of non-commercial aircraft for government business.
“These records should be a part of the public record, and HUD is making it much more difficult to obtain and publish them,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said. “The American public deserves to know who is influencing decisions that will affect them.”