Gowdy probing 'excessive spending' on redecoration of Ben Carson's HUD office

Gowdy probing 'excessive spending' on redecoration of Ben Carson's HUD office
© Moriah Ratner

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyOvernight Energy: Dems ask Pruitt to justify first-class travel | Obama EPA chief says reg rollback won't stand | Ex-adviser expects Trump to eventually rejoin Paris accord Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand GOP lawmakers: Obama admin ‘hastily’ wrote lead ammunition ban MORE (R-S.C.) announced on Wednesday that the committee is probing whether Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonHUD watchdog looking into involvement of Carson's family at agency Ethics watchdog calls for probe of Carson family role at federal agency Thanks to Trump and Pence, America's relationship with Israel is stronger than ever MORE's used "excessive spending" on the redecoration of his office. 

The announced probe follows reports that HUD staff member Helen Foster claimed she was replaced in her role because she refused to find a way around a $5,000 limit for redecorating Carson’s office.

Gowdy requested in a letter to Carson that he turn over all communications related to Foster, as well as all documents and communications related to the redecoration of his office. 

The letter also requests all documents and communications related to the "redecorating, furnishing, or equipping" of the secretary's office from Jan. 1, 1998, to Dec. 31, 2016. 

Carson has until March 14 to provide the material to the committee. 

The Hill has reached out to HUD for comment. 

The New York Times first reported on Tuesday that HUD spent $31,000 last year on a new dining room set, which included a custom hardwood table, chairs and a hutch.

Foster said she was told to “find money” for the redecoration, despite it exceeding budgetary limits.

A HUD spokesman told the Times that Carson “didn’t know the table had been purchased” and is not planning on returning it. 

HUD reportedly did not request congressional approval for redecorating purchases.

“In general, the secretary does want to be as fiscally prudent as possible with the taxpayers’ money,” HUD spokesman Raffi Williams said.