Ben Carson knew a lot more about his pricey furniture purchases than he let on: report

Although it was initially claimed that Carson "had no awareness" of the purchase, emails suggest otherwise

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published March 14, 2018 9:08AM (EDT)

 (AP/Zach Gibson)
(AP/Zach Gibson)

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson is facing increased scrutiny after recently released emails revealed that he seemed to know more about the purchasing of a controversial furniture set than he initially indicated.

An email sent in August by a career staffer to Carson's assistant explicitly discussed "printouts of the furniture the secretary and Mrs. Carson picked out," according to CNN. Raffi Williams, a spokesman for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, attempted to explain the email by claiming, "When presented with options by professional staff, Mrs. Carson participated in the selection of specific styles."

But the Carsons initially insisted they had been as surprised as the American public when learning about the purchasing of the expensive furniture set. When it was revealed last month that there had been a $31,561 order for tables and chairs placed for the agency — one that Carson cancelled as soon as it had been revealed to the public — Williams told CNN, "Mrs. Carson and the secretary had no awareness that the table was being purchased."

Several days later, Carson himself came forward to discuss the matter, claiming that he had "briefly looked at catalogs for dining furniture and was shocked by the cost of the furniture. My wife also looked at catalogs and wanted to be sure that the color of the chair fabric of any set that was chosen matched the rest of the decour (sic)."

There is a $5,000 limit for redecorating the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development's office, which explains the controversy surrounding the expensive nature of the furnishings that were eventually chosen. Carson is also accused of punishing an agency employee for blowing the whistle on the purchase.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Ben Carson Candy Carson Department Of Housing And Urban Development Donald Trump