Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson has repeatedly claimed he was not involved in a decision to purchase a furniture set for his office costing $31,000. A newly revealed email reveals that he lied.
After the Guardian reported about the controversy surrounding the excessive price of the furniture, both Carson and his spokesperson Raffi Williams insisted the HUD Secretary was not involved in the purchase. In fact, Williams initially denied the purchase was ever made.
An email from August 29, 2017 was released on Wednesday and revealed that Carson was not only aware of the purchase; he and his wife, Candy, “picked out” the pieces of furniture themselves.
CNN was the first to report the email. Evidently, internal conversations went on for months regarding what Carson and his wife thought about the options that were available to them. In a March 2017 email, one of Carson’s staffers called to complain that the HUD Secretary didn’t like his chairs.
The documents were released in response to a request for freedom of information from the pro-transparency group, American Oversight – founded by administration officials in the Obama administration.
An additional email revealed that the former HUD chief administrative officer, Helen Foster, said she’d been “asked about ‘finding’ additional money for furnishing the secretary’s office.”
In a complaint to a whistleblower agency, Foster says she was demoted and replaced with a Trump appointee, because she wouldn’t break the law by ignoring a spending cap of $5000 to improve Carson’s office.
Carson and his team insisted that the cap didn’t apply to the expensive furniture order, because the dining set would be enjoyed by the entire HUD staff.
Congress is now investigating Foster’s allegations; and Rep. Trey Gowdy has asked Carson to turn over all documents that pertain to this issue.
As one might expect, Twitter was swift to respond to the news.
An MSNBC correspondent and frequent tormentor of Trump and members of his administration was quick to react:
"Hi Mrs. Carson!" the scheduler wrote. "There is a designer who will be in town next week on the 15th-17th to look at possibly redecorating the Secretary's office and bringing in new furniture. … https://t.co/8PoGV5Gtns
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) March 14, 2018
Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California responded by tweeting a Bible verse in response to a tweet by Citizens for Ethics, linking to an article by CNN on the news.
Dear @SecretaryCarson: Since you like to quote Bible verses, here's one for you:
"The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy." Proverbs 12:22. https://t.co/amWRKrAkFu
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) March 15, 2018
MSNBC news anchor Stephanie Ruhle posted a response to the news anticipating Carson’s eventual ouster from the administration:
As for Ben Carson, the dining furniture may be setting the table for his last supper…worse news to come
— Stephanie Ruhle (@SRuhle) March 14, 2018
Writer, comedian and actor astutely pointed out the obvious:
In Ben Carson's defense, he didn't want to spend $31,000 on a dining table for his office.
He wanted us to spend $31,000 on a dining table for his office.
— Nick Jack Pappas (@Pappiness) March 14, 2018
Scott Dworkin, co-founder of the Democratic Coalition, connected the revelation to other bad news of the day for Trump, tweeting:
Trump’s day so far:
- Conor Lamb won, 20-point Dem swing
- Ben Carson lied, he bought $31K table
- Stone told Nunberg he met w/Assange
- Hearing date set in Stormy Daniels trial
- Rand Paul opposes Pompeo & Haspel
- Millions protesting for gun reform on
Trump’s day so far:
-Conor Lamb won, 20-point Dem swing
-Ben Carson lied, he bought $31K table
-Stone told Nunberg he met w/Assange
-Hearing date set in Stormy Daniels trial
-Rand Paul opposes Pompeo & Haspel
-Millions protesting for gun reform on #NationalWalkoutDay
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) March 14, 2018