House Oversight Committee Asks Carson For Records On $30,000 Office Furniture

HUD Secretary Ben Carson, meeting the media briefly before his departure, toured the Hunter Plaza Apartments in downtown Fort Worth, Wednesday, March 29, 2017.
Paul Moseley/Star-Telegram

The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee wrote to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson, on Wednesday, to ask about a $30,000 dining room set destined for Carson’s office.

The Committee is aware of a complaint filed with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) by Department of Housing and Urban Development employee Helen Foster alleging retaliation when Foster refused to abet exceeding a spending cap on redecorating your office,” Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) wrote. 

Foster alleges she was demoted in retaliation after she insisted that a HUD order for a $31,561 dining room set would require congressional approval, because it exceeded a $5,000 decorating budget.

Gowdy asked Carson to supply relevant records relating to Foster, as well as those regarding the “redecorating, furnishing, or equipping” of the secretary’s office.

A spokesperson for HUD told TPM Wednesday, referring to Foster: “It’s not unusual for Senior Executive Service (SES) employees to be rotated.”

The same spokesperson said the furniture for Carson’s office was a “building expense” and was not part of the decorating budget. They also acknowledged spending $165,000 on lounge sofas and chairs “for various offices around the agency,” flagged first by the Guardian.

TPM published photos Wednesday, supplied by HUD, of the dining set the agency is spending big to replace. HUD spokesperson Raffi Williams told the New York Times that while Carson did not order the furniture, he did not see the price and excessive and was not planning on returning the order.

Read Gowdy’s letter to HUD below:

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