The Department of Housing and Urban Development planned to spend over $31,000 a new dining set for Secretary Ben Carson’s office. The furniture included a table, chairs and hutch. The order was made by a staffer, after a fellow HUD employee aired concerns over a costly redecoration request.
Carson announced today that he wants to cancel the order, according to a statement provided exclusively to CNN.
The embarrassing situation comes as HUD faces a massive $6 billion cut to its budget, which would affect the poor.
HUD spokesman Raffi Williams said the department did not seek approval from congressional appropriations for the original order, which is required for redecoration costs that exceed $5,000 dollars.
The Guardian reported earlier on Tuesday, that HUD employee Helen Foster claims she was demoted because she voiced concern over costly plans to redecorate Carson’s office.
Allegedly, she was asked by former acting HUD Secretary Craig Clemmensen to help find the money to redecorate what would become Carson’s office. She told him that there was a limit on these type of expenses, and he responded saying they always found ways around that over the years, and $5,000 couldn’t even by something decent.
Foster later filed a complaint with the HUD budget director about being asked to violate statute limits on spending, but claims she was removed from her post and demoted to the head of the unit that oversees Freedom of Information Act requests.
Foster told ABC it was a shame that a federal agency who is supposed to be helping the poorest of the poor, is instead looking at how to improve their office. Foster has also said that she had to justify paying for a security system installed at Carson’s Virginia home, all with taxpayer funds.
Last April, Secretary Carson told radio host Hugh Hewitt that the department was putting in place a system so that they could closely monitor where every dollar goes.
Foster is looking to receive damages and back pay, so she can reimburse her attorney’s fees, and a public apology from the department.
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