Nel's New Day

February 28, 2018

Ben Carson’s Furniture: Your Tax Dollars at Work

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 10:18 PM
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Tom Price was fired as HHS secretary for using expensive transportation, and other Cabinet members selected by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) such as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin are well known for their extravagant appropriation of taxpayer monies for personal pleasure. DDT outdoes them all with his frequent expensive trips to his personal properties, primarily Mar-a-Lago in Florida. But the crowd of grifters in Washington, D.C. filling DDT’s personal swamp has a new entry in wasting taxes while DDT gives money to the wealthy and large corporations at the expense of low-income and middle-class families.

The wasteful expenditures of HUD Secretary Ben Carson came to light when senior HUD official Helen Foster filed a complaint about her demotion, allegedly caused by her refusal to spend more than legally permitted to redecorate Carson’s office. When she told her boss, Craig Clemmensen, that the limit was $5,000, he told her to “find money” for the project, that “$5,000 will not even buy a decent chair. [Here’s an example of a chair for under $5,000.]

Foster’s reasons for her demotion in her complaint letter also listed retaliations for exposing a $10 million budget shortfall and protesting that she couldn’t deal with freedom of information act (FOIA) requests relating to DDT. But the furniture costs for furniture have caught on in the media.

The first outlay noted was $31,561 for a dining room set of table, chairs, and hutch. This $31,561 is more than the cost of over 200 homes listed for sale in 31 states on the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website cost. Ohio alone had 26 available homes.

When asked about the expenditure for Carson’s new furniture, HUD spokesman Raffi Williams first said that this was false. Williams, the former deputy to Sean Spicer at the RNC and son of Fox presenter Juan Williams, answered:

“When it comes to the secretary’s office, the only money HUD spent was $3,200 to put up new blinds in his office and the deputy secretary’s office.”

Caught in the lie, HUD then justified the purchase by saying that the table inside Carson’s 10th-floor office suite served a “building-wide need.” That was their excuse for not requesting approval from the House or Senate Appropriations Committee, mandated for any expenditure over the $5,000. Williams declared that the decision for the expenditure was by a “career staffer” who selected Sebree and Associates, a company based in Carson’s hometown of Baltimore. The new table was listed as “household furniture” in the procurement documents, and the contract called it “secretary’s furniture.”

Williams said that Carson had complained that the table he inherited (above) had “scratches, scuff marks and cracks.”  Sebree isn’t telling anyone what $31,561 will provide.

Carson said that he thought the cost of that furniture was not very expensive, but he hasn’t commented on the new lounge furniture for his HUD digs. That costs another $165,000.

This profligacy would be bad enough on its own, but it comes on top of HUD budget cuts of 14 percent–$6.8 billion. Last April, Carson vowed to make HUD “the most honest department in the government,” declaring that he was “putting in place a structure so that we can monitor where every penny goes.” In September, Carson said:

“It doesn’t matter what the final budget is. We are looking at how we spend the money efficiently. How do we protect the taxpayers and get the maximum bang for the buck? If we get $10, we will spend it extremely well. If we get $10 trillion, we will spend it extremely well.”

Carson also said that the government shouldn’t “make housing for the poor too cozy.” Compassion, Carson added, means not giving people “a comfortable setting that would make somebody want to say: ‘I’ll just stay here. They will take care of me.’” Since becoming HUD secretary, he has claimed that poverty is “a state of mind.”

GQ pointed out that Carson, unqualified for his job, had initially turned it down, and his spokesperson said that he “has no government experience” and “has never run a federal agency.” In his first speech to his new staff, he called slaves “immigrants” who came to America to pursue their dreams.

From Carson’s hometown newspaper, the Baltimore Sun:

“Not good, right? You are about to make decisions about how many Americans deserve to live on heating grates and in cardboard boxes while simultaneously picking out that just-so mix of mahogany and leather. Dr. Carson’s defense is that he didn’t have much direct involvement (it was a Charm City-based federally-approved contractor picking out that fancy dining room table, by the way) and that the cost isn’t out of line for such furniture. Here’s what his defense should be: I’m just following the example set by my boss and fellow cabinet members.

“If there’s one thing that has defined Donald Trump’s first year in office—aside from the incompetence, erratic behavior and frequent lies, of course—it’s how in both policy and appearance this president and his minions have favored the wealthy and shamelessly gamed the system for their personal benefit. The tax plan approved by Congress last fall is surely the centerpiece of policies side so lopsidedly tilted to the rich that investor Warren E. Buffett recently estimated his company’s windfall at $29 billion. So how’s that slightly lower income tax withholding rate working out for the rest of us?”

As Carson spends hundreds of thousands of dollars for his office furniture and allows his budget to shrink, HUD housing is becoming so unfit that it cannot be salvaged. Evictions will leave hundreds of thousands of people on the streets.

Carson is merely one example of the new administration totally out of touch with the needs of people throughout the United States, an administration that considers taxpayer funds from “we the people” as their own personal slush fund.

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