Ben Carson: Guilty of Promoting Shady Medical Supplement Company?

Ben Carson endorsed product by company sued for deceptive practices.

Tea Party darling Ben Carson has for the past few months been taking baby steps toward a 2016 presidential bid. He may soon start running in the opposite direction, however, if unfortunate disclosures about him continue to come to light.

Last week, the retired neurosurgeon faced allegations of plagiarism and his publisher plans to reissue his memoir America the Beautiful without the lifted passages. This week, National Review is reporting that Carson shilled medical supplement products for the Texas-based company Mannatech, Inc., which was sued by the state’s attorney general for false advertising. Carson appeared in a video promoting its glyconutrient products last year and also spoke at the company’s conferences in 2011 and 2013.

“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,” he said in the video. “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.”

But Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who was attorney general in 2007 when he sued the company, disagreed, and accused Mannatech of using “deceptive practices [which] pose a health risk to seriously-ill consumers who may forgo traditional medical attention because of the company’s false claims.” In 2009, National Review reports, the company paid $4 million in restitution to consumers but admitted no wrongdoing.

The mother of a child with Tay-Sachs disease also sued the company when the child died after being treated with Mannatech products, the publication reports. In addition, the company was the subject of a 20/20 investigative report.

None of that halted Carson’s association with Mannatech and his business manager, Armstrong Williams, passed the buck to the Washington Speakers Bureau, which he said set up the 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,” Williams told National Review.

Carson also appeared in a PBS special in which he extolled glyconutrients, which has aired as recently as Jan. 4. But according to Williams, Carson had been taken advantage of and the experience is the kind of thing you learn from and move on.

“It’s not our job to go out and say that ‘Mannatech is a bad company, Mannatech exploited Dr. Carson.’ What we have to do is a better job in vetting these companies that approach,” he told the publication.

Follow Joyce Jones on Twitter: @BETpolitichick.

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(Photo: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)

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