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Ben Carson’s 2 Top Aides Resign

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Updated: | Originally published: ;

Presidential candidate Ben Carson’s two top aides just resigned from his campaign.

Doug Watts and Barry Bennett, formerly Carson’s communications director and campaign manager, resigned Thursday, and according to Watts, the resignation is effective immediately.

In a statement provided to TIME, Watts said, “We respect the candidate and we have enjoyed helping him go from far back in the field to top tier status. Having just announced raising $23 [million] for the 4th [quarter], more than any other Republican candidate, and passing 1 million contributions and and over 600,000 unique donors since March, we are proud of our efforts for Dr. Carson and we wish him and his campaign the best of luck.”

Bennett, however, was more direct about his reasons for leaving. He told TIME, “This morning I called Ben and gave him the news that we had once again raised more money than any GOP candidate and had again beaten our own record. I then told him it was time for me to step down as I have come to understand I would never be able to solve the Armstrong Williams problem.”

Tensions have reportedly been simmering in the Carson camp in recent weeks, as Williams, a confidant of Carson’s who does not have an official role in the campaign, has taken on a larger presence in the media. In late December, Carson warned of a shakeup in his campaign, telling the Associated Press, “Every single thing is on the table. I’m looking carefully.”

Williams said at the time, in an apparent dig at campaign staff, “Dr. Carson is back in charge, and I’m so happy to see that.”

Carson put out a statement Thursday announcing Ed Brookover, who previously served as senior strategist, as the new campaign manager, and Major General Bob Dees as campaign chairman.

“As we enter a new phase of the campaign cycle, it is necessary to invigorate my campaign with a strategy that more aggressively shares my vision and world-view with the American people,” Carson’s statement said. “I commend Barry Bennett and Doug Watts for their efforts to help me share my vision for America.”


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Write to Tessa Berenson Rogers at tessa.Rogers@time.com