HUD official says she was replaced after refusing to fund Carson office redecoration

Camille Fine

An official with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) said she was replaced in her role after she refused to fund a redecoration of Secretary Ben Carson’s office.

Helen Foster — a senior career official at the department — alleges in a complaint she filed with a watchdog for federal employees that she was asked shortly before President Trump’s inauguration by then-acting HUD Secretary Craig Clemmensen to assist Carson’s wife with getting funding to redecorate his office, The Guardian reported.

She said in the complaint she told Clemmensen there was a $5,000 legal limit that could be spent on improvements to his suite.


Clemmensen then allegedly told Foster that administrations had “always found ways around that in the past.”

She was later told to “find money” for the redecoration.

“$5,000 will not even buy a decent chair,” Clemmensen reportedly told Foster.

Foster said she informed the budget director at HUD that she received a request to break the spending limit.

Foster is also claiming in the complaint that she exposed a $10 million budget shortfall and faced consequences for doing so. 

“This is a long-time public servant who did well at her job, and now her reputation has been ruined,” said Foster’s attorney, Joseph Kaplan, who filed the complaint to the office of special counsel last November.

Raffi Williams, a spokesman for HUD, said in an email that the department doesn’t “comment on pending matters of this type.”

Foster was reportedly demoted from her role and replaced with an appointee from President Trump.

Foster’s complaint noted that shortly before these incidents, she had been given a performance rating of “excellent” in an annual review.

According to The Guardian, Foster is requesting a public apology and to be reinstated in her former role as HUD’s chief administrative officer.

Tags Ben Carson budget shortfall Donald Trump HUD
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