You may have seen a flurry of shared articles on your Facebook or Twitter feeds touting Dr. Ben Carson for finding more than $500 billion of missing HUD money. While the U.S. government could use the massive windfall, the claim is not quite true.
Dr. Ben Carson Finds Half TRILLION Dollars in Errors While Auditing Obama’s Housing Agency | The Sean Hannity Show https://t.co/NAwilFsVw9— Keith (@Zeke311) April 6, 2017
According to reports that have popped up on Gateway Pundit, American Today, and Hannity, Carson, who is a member of President Donald Trump’s cabinet as the secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, found the massive bookkeeping errors in his first month at his new post.
In a story that originated at the Daily Wire, Carson was praised for his surgical skills and outed as a possible accounting super sleuth before the bombshell half-trillion dollar find was revealed. The report credited a Carson-ordered audit for uncovering a total of $520 billion in errors contained within “HUD’s notes and consolidated financial statements.” American Today alluded to incompetence on the part of President Barack Obama’s former HUD secretary, Julian Castro, and added the explosive allegation that the errors were “likely intentional embezzlement by Democrats who were emboldened to do so under Obama.”
However, the Inquisitr can debunk the majority of the claims in these reports.
While an audit did uncover $520 billion in bookkeeping errors, the audit was not authorized by Carson. In fact, the audit was completed before Carson was confirmed to his position.
By law, the Office of Inspector General is required to perform an annual audit of HUD’s financial statements.
In November 2016, the OIG issued a scathing initial audit findings report which stated that HUD had not been cooperative, and at times had been combative, in assisting the OIG with completing the yearly audit. The OIG blamed HUD’s lack of control and improper accounting practices, as well as contentious legal counsel, for the agency’s inability to provide basic financial statements, notes, and other requested documents in a timely manner.
In March, the OIG re-issued the financial statements audit after HUD turned over the majority of the requested documents.
The final report did find $520 billion in bookkeeping errors, as well as problems within HUD, which the OIG characterized as “material weaknesses, significant deficiencies and noncompliance with applicable laws and regulations.”
“The total amounts 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. These unresolved audit matters relate to (1) the Office of General Counsel’s refusal to sign the management representation letter, (2) HUD’s improper use of cumulative and first-in, first-out budgetary accounting methods of disbursing community planning and development program funds, (3) the $4.2 billion in nonpooled loan assets from Ginnie Mae’s stand-alone financial statements that we could not audit due to inadequate support, (4) the improper accounting for certain HUD assets and liabilities, and (5) material differences between HUD’s subledger and general ledger accounts. This audit report contains 11 material weaknesses, 7 significant deficiencies, and 5 instances of noncompliance with applicable laws and regulations.”
The OIG recommended that HUD reassess their processes and protocols, as well as those of two of the agencies under HUD’s control, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Government National Mortgage Association, commonly known as Ginnie Mae. According to the OIG, HUD failed in its oversight duties of the FHA’s borrower-financed downpayment assistance program and did not provide sufficient evidence for the auditors to form an opinion of Ginnie Mae’s financial statements.
However, the audit did not uncover a secret stash of cash. Instead, the $520 billion represents a total of all numerical errors, whether positive or negative.
As for the Carson connection, while he may have Gifted Hands, he did not unearth these egregious errors. The final OIG report was filed on March 1 and Carson was confirmed to his position the next day.
[Featured Image by Susan Walsh/AP Images]