A HUD spokesman defended the purchase, saying the department did not need congressional approval for the office furniture, which will be located in Carson's 10th-floor office suite, because it serves a "building-wide need".
"Foster, who has been removed from her position as the department's chief administrative officer (and subsequently moved to the agency's unit overseeing Freedom of Information Act requests), was told by HUD's interim secretary Craig Clemmensen that "$5,000 will not even buy a decent chair".
Gowdy requested in a letter to Carson that he turn over all communications related to Foster, as well as all documents and communications related to the redecoration of his office. But that wasn't the end of the conversation, according to a complaint alleging retaliation filed with a federal whistleblower agency. "Justification: Secretary's Dining room chairs are badly in need of fix", the paperwork reads. I mean, yes, Ben Carson is a vanity presidential candidate who is so plainly unqualified for his job that he at first turned it down because, as a spokesperson candidly conceded, he "has no government experience" and "has never run a federal agency".
Officials at HUD said the secretary did not purchase the dining room set.
Foster's complaint was filed November 3 with the Office of Special Counsel, an independent agency that handles employment complaints from federal employees.
But Carson did receive a nice perk that included a new dining set for $31K, according to the Washington Post.More news: Two children killed, eight wounded in Yemen airstrike
The spending fiasco adds to backlash against Carson's agency for proposing hefty cuts to federal housing programs. Clemmensen, according to the complaint, told Foster that the administration "has always found money for this in the past".
Bottom line: HUD Secretary Ben Carson spent taxpayer funds for extravagant office furniture while claiming homeless shelters shouldn't be comfortable and telling poor people that poverty is "a state of mind". According to Helen Foster, a career HUD employee, she was pressured to find more money from the budget.
Carson's department also signed a contract past year to spend $165,000 on "lounge furniture" for its Washington headquarters from the retailer OFS Brands of Huntingburg, Indiana, according to federal procurement records.
HUD's Office of the Inspector General said Tuesday that it would not confirm or deny whether it had opened an investigation into Foster's allegations.
Foster's complaint asks for a public apology, and that she be reinstated to her original position. Her attorney, Joseph Kaplan, wrote that she "has suffered much humiliation and loss of reputation, and harm to career advancement, as a result of this retaliatory assignment".