The Daily Beast reported yesterday than an employee of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) filed a lawsuit against the agency and secretary Ben Carson because she was demoted after refusing to sign off on illegal expenses for redecorating Carson's office.
“$5,000 will not even buy a decent chair” she was allegedly told.
In jest, I asked if there's a chair in the world that costs that much and, as it turns out, there is.
WASHINGTON — Department of Housing and Urban Development officials spent $31,000 on a new dining room set for Secretary Ben Carson’s office in late 2017 — just as the White House circulated its plans to slash HUD’s programs for the homeless, elderly and poor, according to federal procurement records. [...]
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.
Assuming Carson's $31,000 "dining room set" consisted of a table and four chairs, each chair cost at least $5,000 or more.
But was this purchase really illegal?
Federal law prohibits Carson and other secretaries from spending more than $5,000 to redecorate their offices without congressional approval, but the department says the fancy dining room set is serving a “building-wide need."
The "building-wide" table just happens to be located in Carson's office. Coincidence, right?
A quick search tells me the Department of Housing and Urban Development actually has a cafeteria on the first floor but it's been closed.