GAO says HUD Secretary Ben Carson broke law with unauthorized purchases
The Government Accountability Office has found that Ben Carson broke the law when he ordered a $31,561 dining room table set and an $8,000 dishwasher for his office but failed to report the purchases.
In a report published on Thursday, Carson, the Housing and Urban Development Secretary, was found in violation for failing to notify Congress of the purchases. Agencies are required by law to report any expenditure over $5,000.
“HUD did violate section 710 when it obligated $31,561.00 for the purchase of a dining set for the HUD Secretary’s dining room and $8,812.84 for the purchase and installation of a new dishwasher and associated water treatment system in the kitchen connected to the dining room without providing advance notice to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate,” GAO general counsel Thomas Armstrong wrote in a letter accompanying the report.
“Further, because HUD obligated appropriated funds in a manner specifically prohibited by law with regard to the dining set, as well as the dishwasher and associated water treatment system, we conclude that HUD violated the Antideficiency Act,” the letter adds.
In 2018, the news media began reporting on the table set purchase, prompting Carson to cancel the order he claimed to know nothing about. In congressional testimony, Carson said his wife, Candy, had ordered the furniture, according to Politico.
The GAO investigation was requested by Congress.
Sen. Jack Reed, the leading Democrat on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee in charge of HUD, sharply criticized Carson’s spending in a statement released after the GAO findings.
“It is wrong for someone in his position to purchase a fancy $31,000 dining set for his office while trying to slash funds for Americans struggling to find affordable housing. 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 wrote in the statement.
He added that it’s yet another example of “the Trump administration trying to cast aside the law if it doesn’t suit them.”