At the recent Republican presidential debate, candidate Ben Carson tried to downplay his ties to the dietary supplement company Mannatech.
Meanwhile, evidence that Carson once served as a spokesperson for this company, which is mostly known for its gas-inducing medicine and acts of deception, can easily be located.
Indeed, Carson has promoted the company in infomercials and live events since 2004. Carson even received help from the company in obtaining his endowed chair at the John Hopkins Medical Center.
Carson downplayed this association because Mannatech has long been accused of deceptive sales practices and phony health claims.
After an investigation into Mannatech’s products, a researcher concluded that the cocktail list of ingredients in its pills did nothing beyond causing users to have an increased level of flatulence.
Mannatech denied these allegations. The business relied on a pyramid scheme of independent sellers in order to move their products. Along with this came false advertisements saying that the drugs could do more than they were really capable of.
In 2004, the mother of a child with Tay-Sachs brought legal action against Mannatech. She alleged that Mannatech showed nude photos of her child at seminars and in promotional materials, while also claiming that her child’s health had been improved by taking Mannatech products.
The woman said that she had given the photos to her child’s chiropractor for personal use. It turned out that the chiropractor was a sales associate for Mannatech. In the end, the lawsuit was dropped, but the company paid $750,000 in a private settlement, and the company agreed to stop using the photographs.
Later, in 2007, Mannatech was charged by the Texas Attorney General for misleading sales practices. The company had claimed that it could cure everything from autism to cancer. By the time things were settled, the company shelled out $4 million to defrauded customers.
Medical experts would go on to bash Mannatech for years in response to its acts of deception and fraud. To this day, the company still has a tarnished image.
As for Carson, he has spent more than a decade promoting the company. In 2004, he claimed that he consumed Mannatech products, and they alleviated his symptoms following his diagnosis with prostate cancer.
In a video, which is still available online, Carson said, “Within about three weeks my symptoms went away, and I was really quite amazed.”
Meanwhile, in 2011, Carson stated that Mannatech was the prominent donor for his endowment chair. He made the statement at a Mannatech convention speech in 2011. Mannatech paid $2.5 million for Carson to receive his endowment chair.
Just last year, Carson said in a video supporting the Mannatech, “I still use them to this very day.”
At the presidential debate, Carson even admitted his association with the company.
“I did a couple of speeches for them. I did speeches for other people. They were paid speeches. It is absolutely absurd to say that I had any kind of relationship with them. Do I take their product? Yes, I think it’s a good product.”
A Mannatech spokesperson denied ever paying Carson for his work with Mannatech, instead saying that his promotions were voluntary.
Reports indicate that Carson usually charges more than $40,000 to give a speech.