While Ben Carson was busy refusing to answer Texas Democratic Rep. Al Green’s question about proposed Department of Housing and Urban Development budget cuts, Carson’s office was being redecorated with a brand-new $31,000 dining room set.
The New York Times reports that just one month after a whistleblower complained about Carson’s wife, Candy, insisting that department officials find the money to redecorate her husband’s office—even if it meant circumventing the law—a custom hardwood table, chairs and a hutch were purchased for Carson’s office.
Because nothing says let’s take care of our nation’s poor like cutting the budgets that would help them and spending the money on yourself.
Carson is also reportedly under fire for having HUD’s inspector general look into Ben Carson Jr.’s involvement in a department-sponsored listening tour of Baltimore last year. Carson was warned prior to the tour that including his son could create a conflict of interest.
But, you know, who cares about those minor details.
HUD spokesman Raffi Williams told the Times that Carson “didn’t know the table had been purchased,” but also that he does not believe it cost too much and he has no intentions of returning it.
And that’s a big “So fucking what” for your ass, right?
“In general, the secretary does want to be as fiscally prudent as possible with the taxpayers’ money,” Williams added.
Doesn’t sound like it.
Although federal law requires that approval be sought from Congress if the cost of furnishing or redecorating the office of a department head costs more than $5,000, HUD did not request approval for the $31,561 purchase.
Williams told the Times that the department didn’t seek approval because the dining set, which is located in Carson’s 10th-floor office suite, served a “buildingwide” need.
So, is everyone eating lunch at that table or … ?
According to the Times, Helen G. Foster—a former top HUD official—filed a complaint claiming that she was demoted and transferred after she pushed back on Candy Carson’s request to work around the $5,000 redecoration law.
Candy Carson’s pressure reportedly began even before her husband was in his position as HUD secretary. Foster was instructed by HUD’s interim secretary, Craig Clemmensen, to find money for Candy Carson to redecorate the office. He is reported to have said that “$5,000 will not even buy a decent chair.”
When Foster refused to comply, she was removed from her position as the department’s chief administrative officer and made head of the agency’s unit overseeing Freedom of Information Act requests. Foster viewed that as retribution for her noncompliance.
Williams says that Foster’s reassignment was a routine agency reshuffle and denies that Candy Carson pressured Foster to help redecorate the office.
“Secretary Carson, to the best of our knowledge, is the only secretary to go to the subbasement at his agency to select the furniture for his office,” Williams said.