Illustration for article titled Ben Carson Takes Job at Housing Department Quite Literally, Purchases $31,000 Dining Set
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HUD Secretary Ben Carson, who enjoys brain surgery, taking the Bible literally, not doing his job and very slowly flapping his hands about, is facing scrutiny once again following reports that his department spent $31,000 taxpayer dollars on a new dining room set for his office.


Although the White House recently proposed cutting the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s budget by $8.8 billion, pulling the rug out from under low-income families and elderly and disabled people whose lives depend upon it, HUD officials spent several times the department’s $5,000 redecoration limit on a custom hardwood table, chairs and a hutch for Carson’s office suite.

The Guardian also reports that HUD will spend $165,000 on “lounge furniture” for its offices.


The furniture purchases initially came to light after career staffer Helen Foster filed a complaint alleging that she’d been demoted after rebuffing Candy Carson’s demand that over $5,000 be spent on redecoration, claiming she was told that “$5,000 will not even buy a decent chair.”

HUD spokesperson Raffi Williams, who initially denied that the purchase was made, has had a difficult time explaining this.

From the New York Times:

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.



Mr. Williams said department officials did not request congressional approval because the dining set served a “building-wide need.” The table is inside the secretary’s 10th-floor office suit.


Yep, doing a great job here:

Neither Mr. Carson nor his wife — who expressed a strong interest in sprucing up the drab, wood-paneled, 1960s-era secretary’s suite, according to several current and former department staff members — requested that the 50-year-old table be replaced, Mr. Williams said.

But he had remarked how the previous table was covered in scratches, scuff marks and cracks. Mr. Williams emailed several pictures of the old table, which looks polished and not visibly scarred, during events held by Mr. Carson’s predecessor, Julián Castro.


Williams, it may not surprise you to learn, formerly served as a deputy to Sean Spicer at the Republican National Committee. After making a number of false claims to The Guardian, he eventually “said that he had another phone call coming in and terminated the interview.”

Ellie is a freelance writer and former senior writer at Jezebel. She is pursuing a master's degree in science journalism at Columbia University in the fall.

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