Ben Carson’s office-makeover madness only turns into more of a bad look for the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Chair with passing time. After The Guardian reported that Carson replaced a HUD official after being informed of a statutory limit of $5,000 for the redecoration project, it seems that Carson’s officials went ahead and splashed out that amount and much more — on a dining room set alone. This happened at around the same time that the Trump administration announced plans (which were forecast months prior) to slash subsidy programs for housing the homeless and elderly.
That Carson’s HUD cut funding for the homeless isn’t too surprising. After all, he’d already declared that shelters shouldn’t be too “comfortable,” or people might “just stay,” and he also called poverty a “state of mind.” However, it is shocking that his department dropped $31,000 on a custom-built dining room set for his office, as revealed in a federal procurement report detailed by the New York Times. Interestingly, Carson claims not to have known about the purchase, but he also doesn’t believe there’s a problem:
Mr. Carson “didn’t know the table had been purchased,” but does not believe the cost was too steep and does not intend to return it, said Raffi Williams, a HUD spokesman. “In general, the secretary does want to be as fiscally prudent as possible with the taxpayers’ money,” he added.
Department officials did not request approval from the House or Senate Appropriations Committees for the expenditure of $31,561, even though federal law requires congressional approval “to furnish or redecorate the office of a department head” if the cost exceeds $5,000.
The purchase of the expensive hardwood table, chairs, and hutch has been attributed to a “career staffer,” and Carson may not have been privy to all the details, but it’s apparent that he requested the office makeover and thought the cost wasn’t a big deal. That gap in logic is nothing new for anyone who’s followed Carson’s HUD tenure so far. Last year, he referred to slaves as “immigrants” and strangely stated, “Rich people, poor people — we’re all in the same boat.” It’s clear that he often says nonsensical stuff, but a $31,000 dining-room set makes zero sense while HUD is slashing funding for those in need.
(Via New York Times)