The House Oversight Committee requested documents Wednesday on Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson’s expensive office redecoration.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) signed a letter requesting the documentation after a complaint was filed against Carson’s department with the federal Office of Special Counsel. Former HUD employee Helen Foster alleged that she was retaliated against for refusing to “abet exceeding a spending cap” on redecorating the secretary’s office.
Carson reportedly spent more than $31,000 in taxpayer money on a custom dining set, The New York Times reported Tuesday. The expensive furniture prompted Foster’s complaint that Carson’s wife had pressured employees to somehow find the money to pay for it.
Foster claimed in her filing that she was demoted after acting HUD Director Craig Clemmensen requested she find the additional funds for the renovations, The Guardian reported. Clemmensen continued to pressure her on behalf of Candy Carson even after Foster cited a statutory limit of $5,000 for office furnishings without congressional approval.
“$5,000 will not even buy a decent chair,” Clemmensen allegedly told Foster.
In its letter, the House Oversight Committee requested documents and communication regarding Foster, as well as those referring to furnishing the office since Jan. 1, 2017, including receipts. The letter goes further in requesting all documents and communication on redecorating the secretary’s office dating as far back as 1998.
Carson is not the first official in President Donald Trump’s administration accused of abusing taxpayer money.
Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned in September after it was reported that his frequent use of chartered and military flights cost more than $1 million. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has come under fire for his use of first-class travel after a Washington Post report earlier this month.