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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 GowdyRosenstein to appear for House interview next week House GOP sets deposition deadline for Fusion GPS co-founder Collusion bombshell: DNC lawyers met with FBI on Russia allegations before surveillance warrant MORE (R-S.C.) announced on Wednesday that the committee is probing whether Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonInspector general: Zinke used taxpayer-funded travel for his wife Overnight Energy: Inspector general finds Zinke used taxpayer-funded travel for family | Interior says Trump appointee won't be new watchdog | EPA chief says agency taking climate report 'very seriously' Trump official won’t be new Interior watchdog, agency says 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.