Emails Reveal Ben Carson and Wife Personally Selected $31000 Dining Table

14 March, 2018, 18:14 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Ben Carson

In late February, reports of a significant office makeover at the Department of Housing and Urban Development included the claim at $31,000 was spent on a custom dining set for Secretary Ben Carson's office despite massive budget cuts to the department's programs.

An August email from an administration staffer to Carson's assistant refers to "printouts of the furniture the Secretary and Mrs. Carson picked out", CNN reported.

Carson and his spokesman Raffi Williams repeatedly claimed that the Hud secretary was not involved in a decision to make the purchase, after the Guardian revealed a controversy at the department around the furnishing of his office.

"I was as surprised as anyone to find out that a $31,000 dining set had been ordered", Carson wrote. In one email in March previous year, a facilities staffer said Carson's team had called to complain that Carson "doesn't like his chairs".

"I briefly looked at catalogs for dining furniture and was shocked by the cost of the furniture", Carson wrote. "While it's encouraging to see that HUD's career ethics officials tried to stand up to the extravagant requests from Secretary Carson and his wife, it's still deeply troubling each time we learn about secretary involving his family in his taxpayer-funded job".

Confronted Tuesday with the discrepancy between his past comments and the internal emails, Williams offered only this explanation: "When presented with options by professional staff, Mrs. Carson participated in the selection of specific styles". "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]".

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The documents were released following a Freedom of Information Act request from American Oversight, a liberal watchdog group, CNN reported.

But the newly released emails show two Carson aides discussed the dining set back in May 2017, when they asked about repairing the "fairly precarious" existing furniture, which would have cost an estimated $1,100 to fix. Carson spoke out in a statement via CNN.

Carson's wife weighed in on that purchase as well, according to emails between Rodriguez and colleagues including Greenwood, who now serves as the secretary's chief of staff.

A career HUD staffer reached out to Carson's wife in an August email inviting her to "come in and have input on the redecorating" of Carson's office.

The furniture was quoted as being $24,666, but receipts show the final bill was almost $7,000 more after delivery and installation charges in addition to a small up-charge for the upholstered chairs.

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