Ben Carson suggests wife made decision to purchase $31,000 dining set

Camille Fine

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson on Tuesday suggested in a testimony before the House Appropriations Committee that the decision to purchase a $31,000 dining set for his office was made by his wife, Candy Carson.

“When I assumed the position I was told that, traditionally, secretaries redecorate their offices,” Carson told the committee. “You know I’m not really big into decorating. If it were up to me, my office would probably look like a hospital waiting room. At any rate, I invited my wife in to come help me.”

Carson went on to say that a few months later he was told to fix the dining room set for safety reasons. In his explanation to the committee, Carson said a chair had collapsed while someone was sitting in it and nails stuck out of the dining table, creating a hazard. {mosads}

“I asked my wife also to help me with that,” Carson continued. “They showed us some catalogs. The prices were beyond what I wanted to pay and I made it clear that just didn’t seem right to me. I left it with my wife, I said ‘help choose something.’ “

Carson said he left the decision and was too busy “running from place to place” and heading the department to be involved in the decision.

“I wasn’t that concerned about furniture. The next thing that I quite frankly heard about it was this $31,000 table had been bought. I said ‘what the heck is this all about?’ ” Carson said. “I investigated and I immediately had it canceled.”

The purchase of the dining set sparked major backlash last month, with critics calling it a waste of taxpayer dollars. 

Carson announced a few days later that he had canceled the order for the dining set. He had said at the time his wife had been looking at catalogs for the dining set and that he had “made it known that I was not happy about the prices being charged.”

HUD officials did not request congressional approval for the purchase. Under federal law, lawmakers must approve redecorating and refurnishing costs of department heads’ offices if it exceeds $5,000.

Carson testified before the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday to discuss the purchase. 

Meanwhile, HUD’s inspector general is reviewing the involvement of Carson’s family at the agency after some officials expressed concerns.

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