Ben Carson Lied About His Dining Room Set For No Reason

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Mr. Carson later said he was "surprised" by price and requested that the order be cancelled.

In August, around the time the dining room set was ordered, he asked his staff if he could use any of his furniture allowance to commission a portrait for HUD secretaries not included in the phalanx of oil paintings in the corridor outside his office.

But by the summer, the emails show, there was an abrupt about-face coinciding with the reassignment of a senior staff member, Helen G. Foster, who has claimed in a whistle-blower complaint that she refused to comply with Mrs. Carson's request to "find the money" to fund a more lavish renovation.

"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 decor", Carson continued.

That appears to contradict Williams' sweeping denial that Carson and his wife had any involvement in the purchase process, or any interest in doing so.

Asked Tuesday about the differences in Carson's statement and what the emails reveal, HUD spokesman Raffi Williams explained: "When presented with options by professional staff, Mrs. Carson participated in the selection of specific styles".

"Mrs. Carson and the secretary had no awareness that the table was being purchased", he told CNN last month.

"Below is the price quote for all of the dining room furniture".

The furniture was originally quoted at $24,666, according to an email from Rodriguez to Mills.

"We also have a justification for the cost (as you know, the furniture hasn't been changed since 1988) so this should not be a problem", she added.

Earlier, he claimed that department staff had gone to considerable length to save taxpayers money in refurbishing the office, in part by bringing up furniture from HUD's basement.

Four months later, receipts show HUD moved forward with the purchase.

While the initial quote for the furniture came in at $24,666, the final bill came to almost $7,000 more, due to delivery and installation charges, along with a price increase for the upholstered chairs.

Even if this is true-that they were simply picking off a menu to complete a purchase already made by their underlings, blissfully unconcerned with the undertaking's associated expense-it still diverges wildly from HUD's indignant response to the original story, which was that the secretary and his wife had "zero awareness of this purchase being made".

The emails contain vivid descriptions of the "wobbling" chairs and table.

Another spokesman told CNN it was a "career staffer" who ordered the dining set.

The gotcha report comes just weeks after Carson denied ordering the expensive furniture set, saying he was not the one to blame.



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