Ben Carson, Republican primary candidate and physician, has stoked cries of hypocrisy as he is criticized for departmental excess against the backdrop of deep 14% cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD. In the agency, which Ben Carson now heads, a scandal has erupted over extravagant furniture purchases.
Allegations have come out this week that a former HUD chief administrative officer was reportedly ask to violate a 5,000 USD spending limit law regarding re-decoration expenses for incoming HUD head Ben Carson. The employee, Helen Foster, claims that after notifying her superior about the legal limit, she was told, “5,000 will not even buy a decent chair.” Upon refusing the request to work around the limit, officials allegedly retaliated by demoting her.
Staffers then spend approximately 1,100 dollars on repairs of existing dining furniture. They then went ahead with purchase of a new 31,000 USD dining set, including a “really large [hardwood] table,” chair set, and hutch. Itemized, the dining room chairs totaled 990-1,050 a piece, 4000 for the table and base pedestals, 13,579 for the sideboard, wood top, and deck base, and more than 2,500 for shipping, totaling $31,651 USD.
Also under scrutiny, is the fact that Carson’s department is also contracted to purchase 165,000 dollars worth of “lounge furniture,” from OFS Brands of Indiana, whose owner Robert Menke, coincidentally is also a major donor to Vice President, Mike Pence, and other Indiana Republican candidates.
This comes at the tail of a long chain of controversies over other administration officials, including Scott Pruit, new head of the EPA, and his inordinately frequent use of high-end transport. He is alleged to have personally requisitioned military jets, charter planes, and has blanket authorization for first-class air travel. The EPA when asked to respond has given the reasons for his first class travel as the increased legroom, free drinks, and avoidance of un-“civil” passengers.
Steven Mnuchin, and Ryan Zinke, have also faced criticism for extravagant excesses in their travel budget. Tom Price recently resigned in the wake of his scandal, including that his short tenure included more than one million dollars in travel expenses.
Staff Writer: Ari B