There’s a theme in the Trump administration that the person in charge of each individual office stands in perfect opposite to what that office represents. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is dumb like a box of rocks and is not a fan of public schools. EPA head Scott Pruitt seems determined to end all efforts that actually could help save the planet. The most energy Department Of Energy director Rick Perry has ever shown is when he was on Dancing With The Stars. And now the office of Housing And Urban Development, headed by Ben Carson, is receiving criticism for spending large amounts of money for furniture to decorate the office ostensibly in charge of tending to poor people.
To be fair, we imagine that many government officials spend considerable coin to decorate their offices, but it was specifically suggested that the HUD office not do so. ABC News reports that “The former senior HUD official, Helen Foster, has since filed a complaint that she was demoted in retaliation for raising concerns about granting extra funds to redecorate Carson’s office and other issues within the department.” Foster pointed to the federal regulation that “requires officials to notify the House And Senate Appropriations committees about any furniture or decorating expense higher than $5,000.” In her complaint, Foster noted that acting HUD secretary Craig Clemmensen “told Mrs. Foster to ‘find money’ to purchase better furniture for the office—and he quipped that ‘$5,000 will not even buy a decent chair.’”
This extravagance is especially inopportune since it happened “just as the White House circulated its plans to slash HUD’s programs for the homeless, elderly and poor,” The New York Times notes. One Twitter user noted that the cost of the table could feed 17 veterans for an entire year. The Huffington Post points to Carson’s previous quote that he would “watch every penny,” and the fact that currently “HUD is facing a $6.8 billion cut to its fiscal budget that would affect elderly and poor Americans.”
The Times also states that “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,” according to HUD spokesman Raffi Williams.