$31K dining set figures in HUD ethics controversy

by Francis Monfort05 Mar 2018

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is working to rescind its order for a $31,000 dining room set meant for Secretary Ben Carson’s office, according to a report by The Guardian.

HUD spokesman Raffi Williams said the agency’s move was at Carson’s request. The decision follows allegations by a former HUD official who claims she was demoted for her refusal to exceed the legal spending limit for redecorations.

Helen Foster had been chief administrative officer but was reassigned after disagreements with managers. She told a whistleblower-protection organization that she was moved because she refused to find a way for improvements to Carson’s office to exceed the statutory limit of $5,000.

Foster also claimed that she was told by the department’s acting director while Carson was still in the Senate confirmation process that the spending limit was not even enough to buy a “decent” chair. She alleged that then-acting director Craig Clemmensen instructed to her find more funds for use by Carson’s wife Candy.

The Guardian reported that the HUD bought the dining set for $31,000 after Foster was reassigned. Federal procurement records also showed that the agency entered a $165,000 contract for “lounge furniture.”

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has already asked Carson to turn over documents related to Foster’s reassignment.

Carson and his wife have denied the accusation. “Rest assured that there has been no dishonesty or wrongdoing by us. All the numbers and evidence are being gathered and a full disclosure is forthcoming,” they said in a post to their personal Twitter account.

 

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