President Trump’s Department of House and Urban Development (HUD) is spending $165,000 of taxpayer money on “lounge furniture” for its D.C. office as Trump proposes cutting $6.8 billion from the department’s low-income assistance programs that help the poor and homeless.
HUD signed contracts for the furniture with an Indiana-based furniture retailer last September, according to The Guardian.
On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that HUD Secretary Ben Carson spent $31,000 late in 2017 on a dining set for his office.
The Hill adds:
These revelations came after Helen Foster, a senior career official at the agency, alleged in a complaint to a watchdog for federal employees that she had been demoted after she refused to “find money” for the redecoration of Carson’s office.
Before President Trump’s inauguration, then-acting HUD Secretary Craig Clemmensen had asked Foster to help Carson’s wife get funding for the redecoration. Foster told Clemmensen that they could only legally spend $5,000 to improve the suite but said she was told to find the money anyway.
She says Clemmensen told her that “$5,000 will not even buy a decent chair.”
Housing spokesman Raffi Williams had initially denied the department spent $31,000 on a dining table for Carson.
“When it comes to the secretary’s office, the only money HUD spent was $3,200 to put up new blinds in his office and the deputy secretary’s office,” Williams had told the Guardian.
Here’s HUD spokesman @Raffiwilliams falsely telling me on Friday that a new dining table had not been bought for Ben Carson’s office. He just admitted to NYT that it was: https://t.co/zO8XSZtdG7 pic.twitter.com/nIaMAiOuZu
— Jon Swaine (@jonswaine) February 27, 2018
Williams later confirmed to the newspaper that the table had been purchased, and after Foster’s complaint was reported, Williams also confirmed that $31,000 had been spent on a dining set.
When asked to explain why he had made the initial misleading statements, Williams responded that he had only been asked about spending from what he referred to as “the decorating budget” to improve Carson’s office and had been unaware that the table had been purchased, The Guardian reported.