Congress Wants Answers On Ben Carson’s $31,000 Dining Set

Thomas Phippen | Reporter

Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina wants the government to investigate how Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson used taxpayer money to decorate his office.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform chairman wrote that Carson should provide documents pertaining to his redecoration in a letter Thursday after The New York Times reported that the agency purchased a $31,000 custom hardwood table, chairs and hutch set.

“To help the Committee determine whether HUD adhered to the applicable spending limitations while redecorating your office, please provide … [a]ll documents and communications referring or relating to redecorating, furnishing, or equipping your office since January 1, 2017,” Gowdy wrote to Carson, according to a letter released Wednesday reported by Politico.

Gowdy also asked Carson to brief the committee once he provided the documentation.

Carson, who assumed office March 2, 2017, may have been unaware of the dining set purchase. The NYT reports that Carson’s wife, Candy, had arranged for the redecoration effort, raising more questions about the operations at the agency Carson runs.

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House Democrats have asked the Inspector General to review Carson’s decisions to allow his family members to make decisions for the agency.

The agency has a $5,000 limit to redecoration costs, an amount that rankled interim HUD secretary Craig Clemmensen, who was allegedly acting on Candy’s behalf before her husband was installed at the agency. Clemmensen allegedly told longtime HUD aide Helen Foster that “5,000 will not even buy a decent chair,” according to a complaint Foster filed with the Office of Special Counsel.

“In general, the secretary does want to be as fiscally prudent as possible with the taxpayers’ money,” HUD spokesman Raffi Williams told The NYT.

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