Ben Carson spent $31K on dining set for his office
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) spent $31,000 late last year on a new dining room set for Secretary Ben Carson’s office, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
The purchase included a custom hardwood table, chairs and a hutch. Officials bought the furniture a short time after a HUD staff member filed a complaint that Carson’s wife, Candy, pushed to redecorate the department’s offices.
Helen Foster, who filed the whistleblower complaint, claimed she was replaced in her role because she refused to fund a redecoration of Carson’s office. She alleged in the complaint that 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” but does not intend to return it.
“In general, the secretary does want to be as fiscally prudent as possible with the taxpayers’ money,” HUD spokesman Raffi Williams told the newspaper.
HUD officials reportedly did not request congressional approval for the purchase. The Times noted that federal law requires approval from lawmakers “to furnish or redecorate the office of a department head” if it exceeds $5,000.
Meanwhile, HUD’s inspector general is reviewing the involvement of Carson’s family at the agency after some officials expressed concerns.
The officials reportedly expressed concerns that Ben Carson Jr., who is a local businessman, was inviting potential business associates to a HUD event, which “gave the appearance that the secretary may be using his position for his son’s private gain.”
The elder Carson has denied any conflicts of interest, but asked for an inspector general investigation following the report.