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That’s the way the cookie crumbles for Ben Carson.
The HUD secretary is making light of his embarrassing gaffe during a congressional hearing, where he got the stuffing knocked out of him for confusing a real estate abbreviation with an Oreo cookie.
During a hearing hosted by the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., asked Carson “to explain the disparity in REO rates. Do you know what an REO is?”
“An Oreo?” Carson responded, apparently oblivious about the abbreviation for “real estate owned.”
“No. Not an Oreo. An R-E-O. An R-E-O,” the freshman congresswoman interjected.
“Real estate?” the flummoxed Carson asked sheepishly.
Porter asked him if he knew what the “O” stood for.
“E-Organization,” he replied, not very convincingly.
“Owned, real estate owned. That’s what happens when a property goes to foreclosure,” Porter said. “We call it an REO.”
For the record, an REO refers to a kind of property owned by a lender, like a bank, after a foreclosure.
The lawmaker wanted to know the reason for a disparity in the rate of REOs issued by the Federal Housing Administration compared to other government-owned real estate.
Carson, a former neurosurgeon who has been mocked for not exactly being steeped in the intricacies of his job, decided to inject some humor in his blunder.
“OH, REO! Thanks, @RepKatiePorter. Enjoying a few post-hearing snacks. Sending some your way!” he said in a tweet, where he posted a photo of a package of Double Stuff Oreos — along with a note thanking her for taking part in the hearing.
Porter told CNN on Tuesday night that Carson did, in fact, send the cookies to her office.
“And while I was pleased to receive correspondence from him, what I’m really looking for is answers,” she said.
“I was asking serious questions about serious problems that Americans are facing,” she said. “The foreclosure rate continues to exist at FHA and the foreclosure proceedings and processes have been bad for over 15 years I worked on the issue. I was coming with a series of serious questions and I was hoping to get serious answers.”
Carson didn’t come across as a smart cookie again later when he stumbled while being questioned by Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, who asked him if he was familiar with “OMWI.”
“With who?” he asked.
“OMWI,” Beatty repeated, referring to the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion.
“Amway?” Carson replied
Beatty wanted to know whether the Department of Housing and Urban Development had such an office and whether he worked with its head.
“Of course we have an office of … ” Carson trailed off.
“OMWI,” Beatty repeated.
HUD actually doesn’t have an OMWI. Instead, it has an Office of Diversity and Inclusion, which performs a similar function – but Carson couldn’t name the director of that office.