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 GowdyNunes says he won't meet with DOJ officials until they hand over documents Scalise: FBI needs to stop ‘running around on witch hunts’ Talk of unproven FBI 'plant' in Trump campaign circulates among Republicans MORE (R-S.C.) announced on Wednesday that the committee is probing whether Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonHUD pulls tool used to identify segregation in communities Building ladders of opportunity through a better deal for American families HUD’s proposed changes create hurdles not ladders 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. 

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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.