Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson requests that the order for a $31,000 dining set be canceled in a statement provided exclusively to CNN by longtime adviser Armstrong Williams.
Read Carson's full statement
From: Benjamin Carson Sr
Date: March 1, 2018 at 8:31:31 AM EST
Before I actually occupied my office, I was told what previous secretaries did when they redecorated. I was asked what I wanted to do.
I visited the basement where previously used furniture was kept and my wife visited as well. We selected some chairs and made some minor changes. Additionally drapes that had previously hung in my office were brought back and blinds were put on the windows. The total redecoration cost was less than $3500. This is considerably less than the historical norm.
Dining room redecoration:
The secretary's dining room is used for business luncheons with a wide variety of people and groups. The furniture is 30 to 50 years old and is very worn. It has also been characterized as unsafe.
I did not request new furniture, but asked if it could be remediated. I was subsequently told that it was beyond repair and needed to be replaced.
I briefly looked at catalogs for dining furniture and was shocked by the cost of the furniture. My wife asked if used furniture was an option. Our acquisition process did not allow for that.
We were told there was a $25,000 budget that had to be used by a certain time or it would be lost. I indicated that they needed to take care of the needs of the deputy secretary out of that money too. My wife also looked at catalogs and wanted to be sure that the color of the chair fabric of any set that was chosen matched the rest of the decour.
I made it known that I was not happy about the prices being charged and that my preference would be to find something more reasonable.
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. I have requested that the order be canceled. We will find another solution for the furniture replacement.
Benjamin S Carson Sr MD