Ben Carson Gives Meandering Explanation for $31K Dining Set

Says he left it up to his wife, and also the last dining set was unsafe
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2018 3:32 PM CDT
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson looks over his notes as he waits to testify before a House Committee on Appropriation subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March...   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(Newser) Newly uncovered emails suggest Ben Carson and his wife did know about the $31,000 dining room set purchased for his office last year, and on Tuesday, the secretary of housing and urban development gave a meandering explanation of the controversial purchase during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing to determine his department's budget. "I was not big into redecorating. If it were up to me, my office would look like a hospital waiting room," he said, per the New York Times. "I invited my wife to come and help. I left it to my wife, you know, to choose something. I dismissed myself from the issues." She "selected the color and style ... with the caveat that we were both not happy about the price," he said, noting that top aides were also involved in the process. In the past, Carson had said he was unaware of the price entirely.

The aforementioned emails, however, tell a slightly different story, with one email from the department's administrative officer saying she "has printouts of the furniture the secretary and Mrs. Carson picked out." During the hearing, Carson also said multiple times that he did not know about the $5,000 limit cabinet secretaries can spend on redecorating, but the emails also show aides talking about how to get around that limit. Carson also said during the hearing that the new furniture was about safety, not redecoration: "People were stuck by nails, and a chair had collapsed with someone sitting in it," he said, though it's not clear any such thing had ever actually happened. Not surprisingly, Carson's mention of his wife during the hearing is getting slammed in the media: GQ says he "[threw] his wife of more than four decades under the bus," while New York calls his justification the "worst excuse ever." (Read more Ben Carson stories.)

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