Housing And Urban Development Department Secretary Ben Carson Testifies To Senate Committee On Department's Budget
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Ben Carson’s Spending Habits Called Into Question By House Oversight Committee

The Housing and Development secretary used $31,000 in taxpayer money to buy a dining room set for his office. 

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson’s spending habits are being called into question.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is requesting that Carson turn over several documents after Helen Foster, HUD's former chief administrative officer, filed a complaint alleging that she was demoted for “refusing to abet in exceeding” a $5,000 budget to redecorate his office.

Oversight Committee chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), sent a letter to Carson on Wednesday (Feb. 28), requesting “all documents and communication referring or relating to Foster” dating back to last August. In addition, the letter asks for documents and communications relating to redecorating and furnishing Carson's office.

Carson has until March 14 to produce the documents.

The request came one day after the New York Times reported that Carson spent $31,000 in taxpayer money last year to buy a dining room set for his office. Carson's spending matters are even more controversial as the department of housing is expected to face massive budget cuts.

In her complaint, filed with the Office of Special Counsel, and reported by CNN, Foster says HUD’s acting secretary, Craig Clemmensen, commissioned her to decorate the office last March. Foster says that she was told that Carson’s wife, Candi, wanted to assist her.

Despite informing Clemmensen that $5,000 was the legal spending cap, Foster asserts to being repeatedly pressured to find a way to get Carson “access and funds for the project.” Foster also says that she was told that $5,000 wasn’t enough to buy a “decent chair.”

"There was a sense of 'we are not going to take no for an answer,'" a former HUD employee told CNN of the decoration debacle. "There was a lot of staff time spent on this.

"The most frustrating part of all this was spending so much time on this issue," added the ex-employee. "Instead of focusing on HUD's mission, we were talking about furniture for the Secretary's office."

According to The GuardianFoster's complaint goes on to accuse HUD of violating laws “protecting whistleblowers from reprisals.” Furthermore, Foster claims that she was essentially punished for pointing out a $10 million budgeting shortfall, and blocked from handling a Donald Trump-related freedom of information request because she was assumed to be a Democrat.

Foster wants a public apology, compensatory damages, and for her HUD position to be reinstated.

*Update: Carson canceled his $31,000 dining set order amid growing controversy. 

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Mel D. Cole

Photographer Mel D. Cole Captures The Madness of The Capitol Hill Raid

Celebrated photographer Mel D. Cole is known throughout the music and entertainment industry as one of the standout lensmen of our time, capturing the stunning images of rap stars and famous folks alike. While that lane is usually his circle, he also documents the real-life, outside of the glitz and glamour and yesterday (Jan. 6), Cole caught the wild times of the unlawful raid of our country's Capitol building.

Occupied by a majority of Trump supporters, the judicial chambers were breeched and the halls of the highest state of America were trolled by those calling themselves "The Proud Boys" and other non-essential and unofficial individuals. They were met with little security resistance once inside, but as Cole has depicted in these images and video, the raucous scene outside was one of historic proportions, where the mob clashed with police.

Watch the commentary of those who spoke to Cole about Trump's America, being patriots while assaulting the police, and how they were right in storming the authority of Congress, who were in session at the time. There were a group of people in the "Blacks For Trump" crowd as well. These insurgents sent our countries leaders into hiding in their own offices and chambers. Such a sad day in America.

View Cole's Instagram Stories and IGTV channel for more images and videos.

You can find more of Mel D. Cole's work in his latest book, GREAT: Photographs of Hip Hop.

 

 

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Barack Obama Says He Doesn't Like The Term “Defund The Police”

Barack Obama's advice about the using the term “defund the police” is receiving mixed reviews. The former commander in chief explained his issue with the “slogan” in an interview on the Snapchat show Good Luck America.

Obama cautioned against using the term as he feels it to be exclusionary. “If you want people to buy your sneakers you’re going to market it to your audience. It’s no difference in terms of ideas,” he explained. “If you believe, as I do, that we should be able to reform the criminal justice system so that it's not biased and treats everybody fairly, I guess you can use a snappy slogan, like ‘defund the police.’ But you know, you lost a big audience the minute you say it, which makes it a lot less likely that you're actually going to get the changes you want done.”

He also suggested that instead of “defund the police” people should say: “Let’s reform the police department so that everybody’s treated fairly.”

The 59-year-old politician seemingly theorized that the use of “defund the police” may have cost Democrats House seats in the recent election. “The key is deciding do you want to actually get something done, or do you want to feel good among the people you already agree with? If you want to get something done in a democracy, in a country as big and diverse as ours, than you got to be able to meet people where they are and play a game of addition and not subtraction.”

Read some of the reactions to his comments below.

With all due respect, Mr. President—let’s talk about losing people. We lost Michael Brown Jr. We lost Breonna Taylor. We’re losing our loved ones to police violence.

It’s not a slogan. It’s a mandate for keeping our people alive. Defund the police. https://t.co/Wsxp1Y1bBi

— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) December 2, 2020

Imagine if Obama came out and gave a quick speech about how Defund the Police means reallocating resources to organizations that can help, instead of using cops to deal with things like mental health situations.

Says a lot about the man that he instead criticizes slogans.

— Dave Anthony PHD, MD, Esquire. (@daveanthony) December 2, 2020

obama doesn't like "defund the police" as a slogan because it is a specific actionable thing with a clear goal in mind. hope, change, yes we can & all that are better because they don't require you to actually do anything after saying them

— Shaun (@shaun_vids) December 2, 2020

What if activists aren’t PR firms for politicians & their demands are bc police budgets are exploding, community resources are shrinking to bankroll it, & ppl brought this up for ages but it wasn’t until they said “defund” that comfortable people started paying attn to brutality

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 2, 2020

The phrase 'defund the police' is awkward and misleading. It doesn't accurately convey the need to reallocate funding so that social services and policing are properly weighted.

The phrase mangles the meaning in a way that guarantees that many won't ever even hear it.

— Floss Obama🎅🏾 (@FlossObama) December 3, 2020

Obama is right. Defund the Police is a bad slogan. Reform the Police is better.

— PoliticsVideoChannel (@politvidchannel) December 2, 2020

obama is right. y’all need to stop saying defund the police when we mean abolish the police

— anti-lawn aktion (@antihoa) December 2, 2020

No one can push neoliberal thought like Obama. Suddenly, EVERYONE has decided that "defund the police" is just a slogan, and that it is responsible for Dems losing even tho none of them supported it.

The aim is to undermine activists just like he did w/ the potential NBA strike.

— Honeyves (@AdamantxYves) December 2, 2020

I need Barack Obama to leave the sloganeering to the movement.

Defund. The. Police.

We are keeping it. We are demanding it.

— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) December 2, 2020

We lose people in the hands of police. It’s not a slogan but a policy demand. And centering the demand for equitable investments and budgets for communities across the country gets us progress and safety. https://t.co/Vu6inw4ms7

— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) December 2, 2020

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Activist Cori Bush Becomes Missouri’s First Black Congresswoman

Ferguson activist Cori Bush is making history as the first Black woman to represent Missouri in Congress. Bush, a Democrat, beat out Republican Anthony Rogers and Libertarian Alex Furman in Tuesday’s (Nov. 3) election.

“Mike Brown was murdered 2,278 days ago. We took to the streets for more than 400 days in protest,” Bush tweeted on election night. “Today, we take this fight for Black Lives from the streets of Ferguson to the halls of Congress. We will get justice.”

The historic victory came 52 years after Shirley Chisholm became the first Black woman elected to Congress. “I shouldn’t be the first,” noted Bush in another tweet. “But I am honored to carry this responsibility.”

The First. pic.twitter.com/h3o0GxeFLR

— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) November 4, 2020

A nurse, pastor, single mother and “lifelong St. Louisan,” 44-year-old Bush, who will be sworn in at the top of the year, previously ran for a Senate seat in 2016 and 2018. Her Congressional journey was chronicled in the Netflix documentary Knock Down the House.

And she's not alone in making political history during this year's election. Aside from Baltimore electing its youngest mayor ever, a record 298 women ran for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Of the nearly 300 candidates, 115 identified as Black, Latina, or Native American.

Other pioneering political wins included Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones becoming the first openly gay and openly gay Afro-Latino members of Congress, and Sarah McBride, who became the first trans U.S. Senator.

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