WASHINGTON — Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson became confused about a basic real estate term during a testimony in front of a congressional panel on Tuesday, asking if the congresswoman questioning him was referring to “Oreo” cookies.
During a hearing hosted by the House Financial Services Committee, California Rep. Katie Porter, a Democrat, asked Carson if he is familiar with REOs, the abbreviation for real-estate owned.
“An Oreo?” Carson responded.
Porter quickly interjected, telling Carson, “No. Not an Oreo. An R-E-O. An R-E-O.”
When Carson skeptically replied, “Real estate?,” Porter asked if he knew what the “O” stood for. He replied “organization.”
“Owned, real estate owned. That’s what happens when a property goes to foreclosure,” Porter said. “We call it an REO.”
Carson has ran the department since 2017, where he has largely avoided controversies and gaffes, despite reports early on about large expenditures from his office on furniture and other items like a $31,000 dining set.
Many hearings have become tense as probes of various Trump administration officials have ramped up in recent months. As for Carson, he is primarily dealing with frustrated Democrats at odds with the Trump administration’s handling of his department.