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Ben Carson Blames Purchase of $31000 Office Dining Set on His Wife

21 March 2018

I said, you know, help choose something, but I said the money that is gonna be used - we need to take care of the deputy secretary's office - and, you know, whatever's left over, you know, take care of the dining room furniture. But Carson said a few months later he was told that the dining room needed to be replaced "because people were being stuck by nails, a chair collapsed from somebody sitting in it". In comments flagged CBS reporter Katie Watson, Carson said the final decision was left up to her. "The next thing I heard... was this $31,000 table had been bought". He said he immediately had it cancelled.

"It's my understanding that the facilities people felt that the dining room table was actually unsafe", he told a House Appropriations subcommittee. Foster said Carson's wife pressured her to find a way around the $5,000 legal price limit for the office redecoration, then retaliated when she refused.

Appearing before a congressional committee, Carson responded to a question from U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) about a decision by HUD to rescind the Equal Access Rule, which, under the Obama administration, had guaranteed that homeless transgender people were able to access shelters that match their gender identity. Shortly after the report came out, Carson announced that the purchase had been canceled.

HUD spokesman Raffi Williams initially told media outlets that "Mrs. Carson and the secretary had no awareness that the table was being purchased", when news of its purchase became public in February, and emails between HUD staffers emerged later that indicated that Carson and his wife had weighed in on the purchase.

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"I said, 'What the heck is that all about?'" he said. "I do not intend to be responsible for what anyone else said".

"I'm not really big into decorating".

In his opening statement, Price, the subcommittee's ranking Democrat, called the purchases and their aftermath "ethical lapses".

Carson argued that he wasn't concerned about the furniture because he had more important issues to handle as HUD secretary.

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Carson said his staff felt that the dining room table was "a facilities issue, not a decorating issue", in response to why his staff did not notify Congress of the purchase, which exceeded the $5,000 cap.

"I thought that that was excessive", Carson said.

Carson said he chose to redecorate his office with furniture and curtains he found in HUD's subbasement, with a total renovation cost, including new blinds, of $3,500.

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Ben Carson Blames Purchase of $31000 Office Dining Set on His Wife