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Ben Carson’s pre-campaign troubles

Ben Carson’s pre-campaign troubles

Is Ben Carson ready for primetime?

Dr. Ben Carson has become a fan favorite among Tea Partiers. A well-spoken, educated, political-outsider with an inspiring story, Carson has created enough excitement to inspire a national effort to draft him into a 2016 Presidential bid.

Being an untried outsider might prove advantageous in some respects… until it comes time to deal with the airing of the past grievances. Those experienced in political combat have well-trained, battle-ready teams to deal with any unflattering press that might surface.

Last week, would-be 2016 presidential contender Dr. Ben Carson apologized for plagiarism.

Buzzfeed unearthed attribution issues in Carson’s book 2012 book, America the Beautiful. National Review reported:

America the Beautiful, which mixes history, politics, and autobiography, is the first book on which Carson collaborated with his wife, who is credited on the front cover. Candy Carson, the source says, “relied heavily on the editor” to ensure all of the sources were attributed correctly. Carson’s book agent, Sealy Yates, told the Daily Caller that the Carsons “delivered a completed manuscript to the publisher and they then relied on the editorial staff, which every author does.”

The book was published by Zondervan, HarperCollins’s Christian division, which is currently featuring Carson’s latest book on its web page. BuzzFeed highlights sentences in the book lifted from a number of sources, including Zondervan did not immediately return a request for comment.

Following the Buzzfeed report, Carson apologized. According to CNN:

“I attempted to appropriately cite and acknowledge all sources in America the Beautiful, but inadvertently missed some. I apologize, and I am working with my editors to rectify the situation,” Carson said in a statement his representative, Armstrong Williams, provided to CNN.

But that’s not the end of the Ben Carson-as-potential-candidate complications.

Today, Jim Geraghty of National Review unearthed a troubling Carson connection. Evidently, Carson spent ten years involved with a medical-supplement maker that then Texas Attorney General (now Governor) Greg Abbott accused of false advertising.

Geraghty reports:

n March of last year, Dr. Ben Carson, the conservative star considered a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, appeared in a video for Mannatech, Inc., a Texas-based medical supplement maker. Smiling into the camera, he extolled the benefits of the company’s “glyconutrient” products:

The wonderful thing about a company like Mannatech is that they recognize that when God made us, He gave us the right fuel. And that fuel was the right kind of healthy food. You know we live in a society that is very sophisticated, and sometimes we’re not able to achieve the original diet. And we have to alter our diet to fit our lifestyle. Many of the natural things are not included in our diet. Basically what the company is doing is trying to find a way to restore natural diet as a medicine or as a mechanism for maintaining health.

Carson’s interactions with Mannatech, a nutritional-supplement company based in suburban Dallas, date back to 2004, when he was a speaker at the company’s annual conferences, MannaFest and MannaQuest. He also spoke at Mannatech conferences in 2011 and 2013, and spoke about “glyconutrients” in a PBS special as recently as last year.

Mannatech has a long, checkered past, stretching back to its founding more than a decade before Carson began touting the company’s supplements. It was started by businessman Samuel L. Caster in late 1993, mere “months,” the Wall Street Journal later noted, before Congress passed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, which greatly loosened restrictions on how supplement makers could market their products. Within a few years of its inception, the company was marketing a wide variety of “glyconutrient” products using many of the same tactics previously described in lawsuits against Eagle Shield, Caster’s first company.

This wasn’t a casual acquaintance or one-time dealing.

“This was a particularly egregious case of false advertising,” said Christine Mann, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services. “It’s rare for us to see a dietary-supplement manufacturer claim a particular product cures cancer, autism, or any number of retractable or incurable diseases. We do see all kinds of claims being made in the supplement industry, but in many cases we find manufacturers do not know the rules and will work with us to make sure they get into compliance with the applicable laws.”

In 2009, the state of Texas reached an agreement resolving the lawsuit against Mannatech, Inc., and Caster; under the settlement, Mannatech paid $4 million in restitution to Texas customers while admitting no wrongdoing, and Caster agreed to a $1 million civil penalty and a five-year ban on serving as an officer, director, or employee of the company. The agreement further decreed that Mannatech employees were prohibited from saying “directly or indirectly” that their products can “cure, treat, mitigate or prevent any disease,” and banned the use of customers’ testimonials making those claims.

According to National Review, Carson business manager Armstrong Williams said, “Carson won’t personally be answering any questions about his interactions with the company, “because that is the decision that has been made.””

Carson’s relationship with the company, at least according to Williams, was not actually a relationship per se, but merely a string of speaking engagements booked by a speakers bureau:

“I don’t know that he’s ever had a compensated relationship with Mannatech,” says Armstrong Williams, Carson’s business manager, when asked about those appearances. “All we know is that the Washington Speaker’s Bureau, which booked hundreds of speaking engagements for him through the year, booked these engagements. He had no idea who these people are. They’re booked through the speakers’ bureau. The question should be asked to the Washington Speakers Bureau, when did they have a relationship with Mannatech, because Dr. Carson never had one.” (At Washington Speakers Bureau, Carson is listed as a level-6 speaker, meaning his fee is more than $40,000 per speech.)

If he’s to avoid any guilty by association inferences, Carson should be answering questions. “I don’t know that he’s ever had a compensated relationship” and “he wont be answering questions” could prove more damaging than helpful in the long run. After all, the games haven’t even begun.

Carson has yet to say whether or not he’s running for President in 2016.

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Good thing we have Jeb and Mitt to fall back on, eh?

Midwest Rhino | January 12, 2015 at 5:15 pm

Carson came to fame by challenging Obama at that breakfast. But he didn’t impress me then nor now, as a strong speaker for conservative values, or as a strong presidential candidate.

My concern is he will take advantage of his popularity and run third party, playing it for his own personal gain. I’m surprised he gets over $40K per appearance … he should just keep doing that, then campaign for Walker (or whomever).

I see Huckabee as running for personal gain also, but at least he won’t be a problem after the primaries. If Carson (or his ghostwriter) had to borrow that much for his book, (without carefully noting what he “borrowed”), he doesn’t have enough depth to be running for president.

My take on Dr. Carson — I love what he says and how he says it. I don’t think he’s mean enough to win a presidential campaign.

Henry Hawkins | January 12, 2015 at 5:27 pm

I love the guy but not necessarily as president. I think the conservative wing of the GOP is understandably desperate for banner carriers within the party and they tend to lionize a good-sounding new guy/lady quickly.

A “Ross Perot” for the 21st century. All style, no substance. Nice guy, good rhetoric but zero chance of being anything but a vote magnet for disaffected TPers. And if Bush/Romney/Christi ends up on the ballot, I’ll vote whatever 3rd party there is.

    healthguyfsu in reply to Fiftycaltx. | January 12, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    BS…we finally have a decent candidate that is not a shill for the establishment and this is the kind of crap we have to hear.

    No substance? The guy performed the first craniofacial separation on Siamese twins for crying out loud using innovative near hypothermia techniques. He basically pioneered an entire branch of surgical medicine (beyond just Siamese separations) with these techniques.

    Even if he never ran for an office in his life, he has more substance than you or I put together.

Ask yourself a simple question. if Dr. Carson was white would he even be considered as a Presidential candidate?

That is the elephant in the room.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to Anchovy. | January 12, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    Wait.. what… he’s black?

    healthguyfsu in reply to Anchovy. | January 12, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    Ummm yes absolutely…clearly you know nothing about who he is if you try to pull that cheap garbage out.

      Anchovy in reply to healthguyfsu. | January 12, 2015 at 9:24 pm

      Do you? What do you know about his ability to manage the largest budget in the world? What does he know about foreign policy? What is his position on space exploration? How would he handle radical Islam? How would he handle the looming cyberwarfare that nations will employ against each other.

      He is a doctor. He has no political experience. He has no foreign policy experience. He made a nice speech but clearly needs a lot more exposure before he is a reasonable candidate.

      And you can stop your racist crap. Answer the question. Explain why you think he has the qualifications to be the leader of the free world. Go for it.

        Henry Hawkins in reply to Anchovy. | January 12, 2015 at 9:55 pm

        It’s been a fact, to me anyway, that no candidate is strong in all the areas you mention above, all of them incredibly important, and it’s always been a requirement for me that a candidate know where he/she is weak and strong and to show willingness to seek counsel on weak areas especially. If I was good enough at picking out staff and cabinet leaders, hell, even I might make a good president. ‘If’ is the biggest word in the dictionary, of course. I think Carson might be capable at knowing his weaknesses and stafing accordingly. I certainly don’t know though. Plus there are too many better, more experienced candidates to risk much on Carson, who, as a private sector outsider, has no political record to check. He might be Reagan 2.0, or he might go all Jimmy Carter on us.

        Healthguyfsu is right though – Carson has a tremendous record in medicine and a remarkablelife story. However, having no executive, legislative, or legal experience is a huge drawback for a candidate to lead the US and the free world.

        healthguyfsu in reply to Anchovy. | January 13, 2015 at 12:26 pm

        Exactly what kind of experience do you expect from a real conservative grass-roots non establishment candidate?

        The establishments of both parties have very experienced candidates and they are real good at doing practically nothing or becoming tyrants for a living.

        It’s not because he is black. It’s because, unlike our current President, he has a strong moral fiber and wants to limit government and have people make their own way in life, the way he did, rather than usurp power.

        I can’t say with honesty that the establishment Repubs are all that different from Obama in regards to using the government as a career crutch to kick the can and take powers away from the people quietly whenever they feel inclined to do so.

        healthguyfsu in reply to Anchovy. | January 13, 2015 at 12:29 pm

        Haha racist crap that’s funny…you basically tried to light up a race card on this whole debate (saying that he is only considered because he is black) and I called you for it.

        Technically, that’s not calling you a racist. It’s just pointing out why the race card does not apply here.

The Presidency of the United States is the biggest job in the world, overseeing an annual budget greater than the entire economy of any country in the world except China and Japan, millions of civilian employees, and the world’s strongest military.

It seems reasonable to require some relevant experience in management and administration before taking the biggest job in the world.

It takes more than a rousing speech to do the job.

    healthguyfsu in reply to Estragon. | January 13, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    Yet unlike Obama, he’d be unlikely to try to do it all himself and work as a member of a team rather than as a power-hungry egomaniac.

The interesting phenomena here is not Ben Carson, I think everyone above has commented on someone unproven trying for the presidency vs. other elected role first on the basis of being an effective speech giver.

The question is what is it in us – or our media enablers – that gives folks like Ben the opportunity to talk about running?

I get that a potential candidate may have tons of bad “advisors” who profit from such a run and hence encourage even if the candidate themself is not running cynically just for attention and the lure or bad advice is there.

The question is what is it in ourselves that gives birth to such bad choices?

I have no interest in his candidacy at this level – nor does anyone I speak to. So where does this ephemeral support in polls etc. come from?

    Henry Hawkins in reply to PrincetonAl. | January 12, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    Are you serious? Carson eloquently dissed Obama to his face, drawing the media eye, media followed up, Carson revealed a certain homespun common sense conservatism, further media scrutiny then revealed a remarkable life story for the guy. It is all right up conservative alley. That’s why the support is there.

    Now, as far as him running for president, I know a lot of conservatives who love the guy but, like me, not for president. He came to the fore last year. When it’s years till 2016, it’s perfectly fine for his prez supporters to fantasize until the worms come out (possible plagiarism, connections to a shuckster health food corp, etc.).

    I do want Carson in on whatever replaces Obamacare.

So the mainstream media has already done more vetting of Ben Carson (and his books) than they ever have of Barack Obama (and “his” books).

The remedy for their inexperienced and unproven guy is not our inexperienced and unproven guy. Carson may be God’s gift to innovative surgery, but that is not a proxy for president. Viable candidates should have been through a successful state-wide campaign for governor or US Senator at the least. Otherwise, they are just a minefield of surprises, just waiting to ‘splode.

    healthguyfsu in reply to Immolate. | January 13, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    The president doesn’t have to be the most experienced guy in every room, that’s why we have separation of powers, and currently the executive branch has way too much power as it is.

    Obama is not a bad president due to lack of experience…he’s a bad president due to a lack of experience that he tries to compensate for to appease his ego and his progressive handlers.

I don’t believe Carson is a meaningful candidate for President but he could or does have a roll in the debate about healthcare & racism and should be considered for a cabinet position, say Health and Human Services?