Personal history

Ben Carson once refused to give DNA test in “blackmail” paternity suit against him

( Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

As Ben Carson has surged in the polls lately, taking the top spot in some surveys of voters, his past has come under increasing scrutiny. Several stories included in his autobiography — like the claim that he was offered a full scholarship to West Point — have been questioned. But one detail has largely gone overlooked now is suddenly getting some attention: a paternity suit brought by a Florida woman while he was still a practicing surgeon. Carson actually brought the issue up himself in a 2014 Op-Ed in The Washington Times titled “Cleaning skeletons out of the political closet,” but it went mostly unnoticed because he had yet to declare his presidency and still wasn’t a national political figure.

According to Carson’s side of the story, which he also told during a commencement address in 2003, an unidentified woman attempted to have his wages garnished for child support. He said the woman claimed she had evidence of his paternity and demanded him to turn over a blood sample for a DNA test. Carson, though, fought back and refused to provide the blood sample. “The proof turned out to be knowledge of where I went to high school, college, medical school, and where I served my internship and residency. To top all that off, she had a picture of me in scrubs,” Carson wrote in the Op-Ed. “I refused on the basis of the incompetence of any governmental agency that was willing to pursue a paternity suit on such flimsy grounds.” The lawsuit was dropped shortly thereafter, and Carson cited the ordeal as an example of how he had been faithful to his wife, Candy, throughout their marriage and that a “blackmail” attempt couldn’t shake him.

To bolster his argument about the “Chicago-style politics” of corruption he as subjected to, Carson mentioned a famous blackmail case that Alexander Hamilton, the first U.S. treasury secretary, found himself embroiled in. Unlike Carson, Hamilton was guilty of engaging in an extra-marital affair, but found a novel way of winning forgiveness from the American public and putting the scandal behind him.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.


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