Corporate Connections: Costco, Kellogg
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is a retired pediatric neurosurgeon and 2016 Republican presidential candidate. He has sat on the several boards of directors, including Costco, Kellogg and Vaccinogen (a biotech company), until 2015, when he resigned from the boards soon after announcing his presidential candidacy.
- During Carson’s time on Costco’s board, the board members were sued by shareholders for illegally backdating the corporation’s stock options, fraudulently inflating the stock price. Carson sold about 12,000 shares during the time in question, profiting by more than $655,000. The jury ruled in the shareholders’ favor.
- According to Carson’s disclosures to the Office of Government Ethics, he has received dividends from Kellogg and Costco valued at between $1 million-$5 million.
- Carson has given speeches for corporate-backed think tanks and lobbying groups, including the Hoover Institution, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Association of Realtors, American Bakers Association, the John W. Pope Civitas Institute and the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, according to the OGE disclosures .
- Carson has pledged to step down from his LLCs, American Business Collaborative LLC, from which he draws an annual income of $600,000, and BenCan LLC, a Pittsburgh-based real estate development corporation, for which he receives between $200,000 and $2 million annually
- Carson’s Pittsburgh-based business partner, Al Costa, is an orthodontist who pleaded guilty to a felony health care fraud. The FBI found that Costa had charged patients for procedures that were not performed. Carson, who on the campaign trail said a criminal found guilty of health care fraud should face “loss of one’s medical license for life, no less than 10 years in prison and loss of all of one’s personal possessions.” Costa was sentenced to house arrest and probation.
- During Carson’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) pressed him on whether he would prevent taxpayer money from flowing to properties owned by President Trump. Carson would not say yes or no, and stumbled over his words, saying, “it would not be my intention to do anything that would benefit any American.”