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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Dr. Ben Carson, former director of HUD, to speak at Washington Policy Center dinner in Spokane

Then-U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson signs his book “Think Big” for Vicki Easley and her son, Eric, during a tour of the Spokane Resource Center in August 2019. The Spokane City Council this week rejected a lease extension for the resource center.   (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Dr. Ben Carson is coming back to Spokane.

The neurosurgeon and former head of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will speak at the annual fundraising dinner for the Washington Policy Center, a free market think tank based in Seattle. The dinner will be held at the Davenport Grand on Oct. 15.

“I think what he did at HUD was impressive to us,” said Chris Cargill, the center’s Eastern Washington director. “He also has an impressive personal story.”

Carson shared part of that personal story when he spoke to an anti-abortion ministry in Spokane in September 2014. He returned to Spokane in August 2019 after his appointment in the Trump administration, surveying a housing and job training center coordinated by the federal agency he ran.

Carson, 69, served all four years of President Donald Trump’s term. He had previously run for president in 2016 and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008 for his work in neurosurgery.

Previous speakers at the Washington Policy Center dinner have included Gen. Jim Mattis, former defense secretary under Trump and a native of Richland, and Nigel Farage, the right-wing British politician who helped popularize the Brexit movement.

The dinners are major fundraisers for the nonprofit, according to IRS data. The center reported $4 million in receipts on its most recent IRS filing in 2019. That included $1.7 million from the annual dinner events, which are hosted in both Eastern and Western Washington.

John Mackey, founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market, will be the speaker at an Oct. 1 event in Bellevue.

Tickets for the Spokane event can be purchased on the Washington Policy Center’s website. The nonprofit is planning to hold its event in person following a virtual dinner in 2020 due to the pandemic, Cargill said. Plans may change with health guidance, he said.

A second speaker will be announced later this summer, he said.