secretary carson\'s wife aware of $31k dining set selection: emails

by:YABO     2019-12-20
The newly released agency email showed that the wife of Minister of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, candy, played a direct role in a controversial request to buy a $31,000 set for the secretarial office
Some watchdog groups said this further questioned the involvement of his family in institutional matters.
Spending issues follow reports from Maryland investor Ben Carson Jr who joined his father on a Baltimore hearing trip last year, although lawyers in the department warned that it could be a conflict of interest.
The inspector general of the department is investigating the incident.
On Wednesday, HUD\'s communications director, Raffi Williams, confirmed that Candy Carson was involved in choosing a $31,000 mahogany and Walnut restaurant for her husband\'s office suite.
CNN first reported the story.
\"When a professional offers a choice, Madam
Williams told ABC News in a statement that Carson was involved in a particular style of choice.
Williams did not answer questions from ABC News about Secretary Carson\'s knowledge and participation in the purchase.
The Ministry of Housing and Development previously claimed that Minister Carson was not aware of the department\'s procurement contract.
On Facebook last week, Secretary Carson also denied asking for a restaurant for the office, saying \"instead of asking for new furniture, I asked if it could be remedied.
He also said he asked for the cancellation of the $31,000 catering package for the department.
HUD had previously confirmed that the department ordered a $31,000 restaurant last month, which tried to fix the existing restaurant before ordering.
HUD said at the time that the old restaurant had been there since the 1960 s.
The emails that the US watchdog has requested through the Freedom of Information Act and are published publicly appear to indicate that the secretary and his wife are directly involved in the selection of furniture.
\"While it is encouraging to see HUD\'s professional ethics officials trying to boycott minister Carson and his wife\'s extravagant demands, every time we learn that the secretary has his family involved in his taxpayers, this is still deeply disturbing --
Austin Evers, executive director of the organization, said in a statement.
S. regulators also filed a lawsuit against HUD accusing HUD of failing to release documents from multiple Freedom of Information Act requests and filed a lawsuit against multiple agencies on Wednesday for the personal office of the Cabinet Secretary
The group is considered to be non-partisan.
Mr. Evers and other U. S. regulators have previously worked for the Democratic Party or the Obama administration.
In an email dated August 29, 2017, Aida Rodriguez, an executive officer of the agency, mentioned \"print of furniture for secretaries and wives\"
Carson picked it out.
Another email from February 2017 shows
Carson is involved in the selection of furniture.
\"I think it was you who told me last week that there were some furniture boards/for the wife\'s choiceCarson to see.
If I can get these in the morning, I will see her tomorrow. Thanks!
Carson\'s former chief of staff, Sheila Greenwood, wrote to Rod Ritz.
In another email dated August 29, the staff discussed the $24,666 offer for secretarial restaurant furniture.
The order includes a mahogany table, chairs and a mahogany breakfast.
Rodriguez wrote in an email on the same day, \"I think this is a very reasonable price and the funds are available.
We also have reasons for costs (
As you know, furniture has not changed since 1988)
So this should not be a problem.
\"The documents released on Wednesday also show that HUD spent nearly $10,000 to install wi-
The fi in the office suite, including Carson\'s office and the Office of the deputy secretary, Carson asked how to use the appropriate funds to draw portraits of former secretaries in the hallway outside the office.
Another staff member from the department\'s finance office responded that federal agencies were not allowed to use the grant for portrait creation.
A congressional committee that oversees federal spending looks forward to the department providing more information about the decision to buy a table, especially when Carson knows about the purchase. Sen. Gary Peters, D-
Senior members of the Michigan federal expenditure oversight and emergency management subcommittee sent a letter to HUD last week asking the agency to provide more information and documentation on purchases.
Sens also signed the letter.
Elizabeth WarrenMass.
And Catherine Cortes. Masto, D-Nevada.
Peter\'s office said on Wednesday that they had contacted the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development on the request and that information is expected to be provided in a timely manner.
\"For families in Michigan and across the country, there is still a long way to go for $31,000, and Minister Carson should know not to waste thousands of dollars on office decorations.
Peters said in a statement: \"I look forward to working with HUD to get all the information we ask so that we can make sure that senior officials of the Trump administration use the taxpayer\'s more responsibly
The email also confirmed that Carson chose a chair from the basement for his office, where furniture was stored.
When HUD confirmed the order for the restaurant, they also said that Carson used the furniture that the agency had already stored to replace the furniture in the office.
Greenwood and Rod rigz did not immediately respond to requests for comment from ABC News on these emails.
Ben and Candy Carson tweeted from their joint account after the agency confirmed the purchase of the restaurant, saying that they had done nothing wrong and that they were \"about to make a full disclosure of expenditures \".
Counsel for the department told HUD staff that there was a legal limit of $5,000 in expenses for redecorating Carson\'s office.
On February 2017, they received a memorandum from a number of lawyers in the department explaining the legal restrictions on the renovation of his office and why the department could not pay for the security system for carsons House in Virginia, A copy of the memorandum provided and reviewed in accordance with ABC News.
The department issued documents confirming that the purchased meal equipment exceeded the expenditure limit after a complaint from Helen Foster, a former chief administrative officer of the department, that she was forced to approve the excess of the legal limit.
Last week, another HUD employee wrote a letter to Minister Carson and internal investigators claiming that the department attacked Foster because he was concerned about spending and since the complaint, the leadership of the department has been conducting\"
In an interview with Rick Klein, ABC\'s director of journalism and politics, former HUD Secretary Julian Castro said that the furniture in the secretary\'s office of the department was \"very good \", in good condition during his tenure as secretary last week\'s \"strong Politics\" podcast.
\"I\'m not quite sure what caused the decision to change it or spend that much money to do it.
It\'s a bad decision, it shows a bad judgment, I think it\'s a news, because it does point out the hypocrisy of trying to cut $6 million from the budget to serve those who really work hard and need housing assistance, while making the secretary\'s office as luxurious as possible, \"Castro said.
\"This is not what we should do in public service.
Castro served as secretary of HUD from 2014 to 2017.
Other supervisory groups, such
Washington\'s party citizens in charge of Responsibility and Ethics also expressed concern about Carson\'s \"improper family involvement\" in institutional matters.
The department\'s furniture purchase exceeded the secretary\'s decorative label.
According to two federal contract records in September, HUD plans to spend at least $366,000 to replace old and dilapidated furniture at the agency\'s Washington headquarters.
The agency has signed two contracts with a company called OFS Brands, Inc.
: One is $165,000 for \"HUD headquarters lounge furniture\" and the other is $200,000 for \"HUD headquarters Business Furniture.
HUD said last month that the agency\'s new furniture would \"complement the inventory levels of current and future employees\" for the replacement of dilapidated furniture, which some offices used 30 years ago.
The documents provided by HUD to ABC News show that due to the package agreement negotiated with the company, the agency paid less than the offer on the furniture company\'s website.
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development had previously admitted that there was a batch of old furniture in the basement of its headquarters.
Federal rules stipulate that institutions should purchase new furniture only if \"absolutely necessary, and should not include upgrades to improve appearance, office decoration or status.
\"The rule also says that the purchase of new furniture will only be approved if a large number of new employees are employed by the agency or need to improve the efficiency of the project.
But the purchase is made at an institutional level, so it is up to them to decide how to implement the rule.
HUD did not answer questions about its policies.
The OFS brand did not respond to requests for comment.
According to the agency\'s press release, HUD is expected to announce new efforts to \"strengthen internal financial control\" on Thursday \".
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