WASHINGTON ― Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said Thursday that he would cancel an order for an expensive furniture set for his government office after it sparked ethics concerns and controversy in light of the agency’s proposed budget cuts.
“At the request of the secretary, the agency is working to rescind the order for the dining room set,” HUD spokesman Raffi Williams said in a statement.
HUD spent more than $31,000 in taxpayer money on a dining table and chairs for Carson’s office in Washington, exceeding the $5,000 federal limit on office decor, The New York Times and The Guardian reported Tuesday.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said later Thursday that HUD is “looking for another option that is more responsible with taxpayer dollars.”
Carson told CNN that he initially wasn’t aware of the purchase. He said he looked for new furniture after he was told the dining set located in a meeting room adjacent to his office was “beyond repair.”
“I left this matter alone to concentrate on much bigger issues. I was as surprised as anyone to find out that a $31,000 dining set had been ordered,” he said in a statement. “I have requested that the order be canceled. We will find another solution for the furniture replacement.”
A former HUD official, Helen Foster, alleged that she was reassigned because she raised concerns about the purchase.
House Oversight Committee chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) asked HUD on Wednesday to provide documents pertaining to office redecorating and Foster’s reassignment.
This article has been updated with comment from Sanders.