Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) asked Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson to define a real estate term in a congressional hearing on Tuesday, only for the secretary to confuse the term with a popular dessert.
“I asked [Carson] about REOs – a basic term related to foreclosure – at a hearing today. He thought I was referring to a chocolate sandwich cookie,” Porter tweeted. “No, really.”
Porter asked Carson if he knew what the housing acronym REO stands for. He originally mistook it for the cookie but was still unable to define the term after Porter literally spelled it out for him:
PORTER: I’d also like you to get back to me, if you don’t mind, to explain the disparity in REO rates — do you know what an REO is?
CARSON: An Oreo?
PORTER: No, not an Oreo. An REO. R-E-O.
CARSON: Real estate.
PORTER: What does the “O” stand for?
PORTER: Owned. Real Estate Owned. That’s what happens when a property goes to foreclosure — we call it an REO.
Watch the video below:
— Rep. Katie Porter (@RepKatiePorter) May 21, 2019
Democratic lawmakers were wary when Carson was nominated for the HUD secretary position, as he had no previous experience in housing and urban development policy. However, President Donald Trump was adamant about getting the renowned neurosurgeon and former presidential candidate in his Cabinet.
Carson originally turned down an offer to be secretary of Health and Human Services. At the time, Trump’s advisers were hoping that would be the end of the president’s desire to have Carson in the administration.
“He’s never run an agency, and it’s a lot to ask,” Carson’s adviser, Armstrong Williams, said at the time. “He’s a neophyte, and that’s not his strength.”
Carson told reporters two months ago that he wanted to leave his HUD position if Trump is elected to a second term. He later put out a statement that he may or may not stay.
Porter, on the other hand, had prior experience in housing policy before she joined Congress in January of this year. Notably, in 2012, then-Califonia Attorney General Kamala Harris appointed her to serve as a monitor of banks in a $25 billion national mortgage servicing settlement.