Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson broke the law when he failed to report an order for a $31,561 dining room table set for his office as well as the installation of an $8,000 dishwasher in the office kitchen, the Government Accountability Office found in a report published today.
Agencies are required to notify Congress of expenditures over $5,000 to furnish an executive’s office.
Carson canceled the table order after it surfaced in news reports in early 2018, and he appeared to blame the fiasco on his wife, Candy, in congressional testimony. HUD spokespeople offered conflicting accounts of what Carson knew about the order.
Congressional appropriators requested the GAO investigation.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee in charge of HUD, called the debacle “another example of the Trump administration trying to cast aside the law if it doesn’t suit them.”
“I am also disturbed by the pattern of false statements and attempts to conceal this incident, mislead the public, and prevent Congress and the American people from seeing how taxpayer dollars are being mismanaged,” Reed said in an e-mailed statement.
HUD officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In its report, GAO said HUD officials said they will set up a task force in the department to “improve its internal procedures.” HUD has also instituted a mandatory review process “under which both its Office of Administration and Office of the Chief Financial Officer must approve all obligations or expenditures for covered purchases that affect any offices of any of HUD’s presidentially appointed officials,” GAO said.