I would love to say that neurosurgeon-turned-head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Ben “Mumbles” Carson is merely following in the lying tradition established by the Trump administration, but Mumbles was a liar long before joining the ranks of the White House elite.
There was the time Mumbles claimed that he avoided being robbed in a Baltimore Popeyes by merely pointing the gunman—who, he claimed, held a gun at his ribs—toward the cashier.
Then there was the time Carson claimed that he almost killed a classmate, and would’ve killed him had his knife not snapped on the kid’s belt buckle.
Ever since the scandal broke over the $31,000 dining room set for his office, Carson has claimed that he had no knowledge of the order.
Carson claimed in a statement to CNN that the current furniture in his office was really old and that he had a $25,000 furniture budget that he had to use or lose. He claimed that he was just as “surprised” as everyone else to learn that the furniture ordered for his office was so pricey. The order included a breakfront china cabinet like the one that was broken in the fight scene in seminal black classic Cooley High.
“I briefly looked at catalogs for dining furniture and was shocked by the cost of the furniture,” Carson wrote. “My wife also looked at catalogs and wanted to be sure that the color of the chair fabric of any set that was chosen matched the rest of the decour [sic]. ... I was as surprised as anyone to find out that a $31,000 dining set had been ordered. I have requested that the order be canceled. We will find another solution for the furniture replacement.”
The overpriced-furniture agency confirmed that the order has been canceled, CNN reports.
Well, turns out that Maury’s staff have also confirmed that all Mumbles’ talk about not being in on the purchase of the the dining room set that included a breakfront (which our statistics department has confirmed is ordered only by African Americans) was a lie.
Newly released emails obtained by CNN show that Carson and his wife selected the furniture. Here’s how CNN explains the purchase:
An August email from a career administration staffer, with the subject line “Secretary’s dining room set needed,” to Carson’s assistant refers to “printouts of the furniture the Secretary and Mrs. Carson picked out.”
The documents were released following a Freedom of Information Act request from American Oversight, a liberal watchdog group led by former Obama administration officials, and offer a snapshot into how the agency acquired the furniture.
HUD spokesman Raffi Williams initially denied the Carsons had any involvement in the dining set selection.
“Mrs. Carson and the secretary had no awareness that the table was being purchased,” he told CNN last month.
A HUD spokesman went further at the time, blaming the purchase on an unnamed career staffer. “The secretary did not order a new table. The table was ordered by the career staffers in charge of the building,” he said.
Emails also revealed that Mumbles’ wife was fully aware of and in on the planning of the furniture that would decorate the office.
“Hi Mrs. Carson!” the scheduler wrote. “There is a designer who will be in town next week on the 15th-17th to look at possibly redecorating the Secretary’s office and bringing in new furniture. Are you available on any of those dates and would you like to come in and have input on the redecorating?”
The scheduler noted an urgency in making a decision on the furniture: “We must have the order for new furniture in before the 21st in order to use the money allocated for this fiscal year.”
The emails did not show a response from Mumbles’ wife, Candy (this is not a nickname for Mumbles’ wife; her real name is, in fact, Candy Carson). A quote for the furniture shows that the actual price of the furniture came in just under the allotted budget at $24,666, but with changes made to the upholstery, delivery and installation, the final total was $31,000.
But don’t get caught up in the price. The official word coming from HUD was that the Carsons weren’t in on the purchase, which is proving to be bullshit. In one email chain, the Carsons were sent bar-cart choices, none of which made the final cut.
CNN notes the consistent denials coming from HUD:
The newly released emails contradict the expansive denials by a HUD spokesman when CNN first reported this story. The spokesman repeatedly told CNN at the time the Carsons were not involved in the purchase of the pricey dining set.
“New tables, chairs, in that room whatsoever — zero awareness of this purchase being made,” the spokesman said. “Neither one of them knew this purchase was being made. The secretary knew that the table and chairs were old because somebody fell out of a chair once. That’s literally it. So they had nothing to do with the purchase, nothing to do with anything around that.”
The spokesman, who asked that his name not be used, even denied that Candy Carson had any interest in redecorating the suite.
“I don’t think it even crossed her mind, this separate room,” he said.
Mumbles and HUD have not explained these newly released emails, but last month, when the heat was on for the HUD secretary to explain how in the fuck a breakfront got ordered for his office without his knowledge, Mumbles took to Twitter to use a biblical reference—Psalms 91:4—in his defense: “Under his wings you will find refuge.”
Yeah, good luck with that.