Let’s say you’re a Trump administering official with old dining allowance appliance in your Washington, D.C. controlling suite. What do you do?
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File photo taken in 2018 shows Secretary of Apartment and Urban Development Ben Carson (C), in the White House alongside President. Trump (R), and Vice President Pence (L), afore Trump active a announcement to account Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day .
JIM LO SCALZO, EPA-EFE
In the case of Ben Carson, the presidential chiffonier secretary who heads the Department of Apartment and Urban Development, his agents declared the about 1967 dining set was above repair and spent $31,561 on a custom balk table, chairs, and a berth to replace it.
A federal law banned spending for adornment or refurbishing to $5,000 unless Congress approves more. However, whistleblower complaints filed by Helen Foster, a baronial HUD civilian servant, adduce that a top official again told Foster to “find money,” for the purchase.
More: Ben Carson’s HUD spent $31,000 on dining allowance appliance for his office
Foster’s complaints allegation that Carson’s wife, Candy, capital to advice redecorate the appointment suite. Foster was demoted in avengement afterwards she aloft questions about the ignment and added HUD spending, the complaints allege.
The allegations accomplish Carson the latest Trump chiffonier ociates to face questions about spending issues.
HUD beneath to animadversion on Foster’s complaints. Raphael Williams, the apartment agency’s communications director, said in a Thursday email that HUD “is alive to abolish the adjustment for the dining allowance set,” at Carson’s request.
On Friday, Williams accustomed that the arrangement had been canceled.
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The announcements came days after Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a government babysitter organization, asked HUD Ambador Accepted Helen Albert to investigate Foster’s allegations.
Could Carson and HUD accept gotten a bigger accord for American taxpayers by arcade around?
Although a appliance barter industry backer appropriate the amount of the arguable dining set actually ability be reasonable, USA TODAY online allegory arcade identified less-pricey options.
On the college end, the website of Raymour & Flanigan, a appliance alternation with food in seven Northeast states, lists a 98-inch, cherry-colored dining table with a bifold bat for $3,379. The aggregation additionally sells ogous armchairs for $759.95 each. A 92-inch-high ceramics chiffonier for $5,869 would complete the set.
Undated angel shows a Gables aculating dining table from appliance alternation Raymour & Flanigan
Raymour & Flanigan website
According to the appliance aggregation website, the price tag for the table, eight chairs and the hutch, after tax or commitment charges, totals $15,329, or beneath than bisected the amount of Carson’s HUD dining set.
Still too expensive?
Carson and HUD potentially could accept acclimatized on a added affordable advantage from American Signature, a furniture company with stores in 17 states. The firm’s website appearance a charcoal-colored dining table with two pedestals and ogous adipose ancillary chairs.
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Together with a aggregate cafe and hutch, the table and eight chairs would amount about $2,708, after tax or commitment charges, the aggregation website shows. The absolute potentially would accede with the federal spending limit on redecorations.
The $31,500 HUD amount could be justified if the dining set were fabricated of solid copse or hand-constructed appearance and featured solid umption hardware, said Jackie Hirschhaut, a backer for the American Home Furnishings Alliance, a barter aculation for the residential appliance industry.
“Consumers ability be affronted at the abstraction of spending $31,500,” said Hirschhaut, but “this appliance will aftermost 50-plus years of daily, asperous use.”
That said, at atomic one decorating able appropriate HUD allegation not absorb so much.
Charles Krewson, a Washington, D.C.-based autogenous artist and decorator, said his aboriginal advocacy would be to explore refinishing of the absolute HUD dining set. “A able refinisher can absolutely transform things, and so can a acceptable upholsterer,” he said.
But in some cases, salvaging would be difficult, Krewson said.
“Usually bodies of bureau in a bearings like that absolutely pay for it themselves, that’s what I’ve had appear in the past,” he said. “Someone who’s an honorary agent or article like that, they usually aces up a lot of the tab and aloof advance things.”
Carson isn’t the aboriginal Trump appointee whose spending has raised questions.
More: HHS Secretary Tom Price resigns in deathwatch of biking spending scandal
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More: Steven Mnuchin requested an Air Force jet for his European honeymoon, address says
More: VA Secretary David Shulkin abolished government resources, bureau babysitter address says
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price accommodated in September amidst letters that he ran up roughly $1 actor in flight costs on clandestine and aggressive aircraft.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin requested a U.S. Air Force jet to fly him and his new wife, Louise Linton, to France, Italy, and Scotland for their summer 2017 honeymoon, ABC News reported.
Mnuchin after absitively the appeal was accidental because he could align defended communications during the cruise after a aggressive jet.
Separately, the Treasury inspector general’s appointment said it would review the cruise Mnuchin and his wife took to the U.S. Bullion Depository in Kentucky at the time of the August 2017 solar eclipse.
Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin break accustomed Wimbledon tickets and airfare for his wife during a European cruise aftermost summer that amount taxpayers added than $122,000, a VA ambador accepted address ured in February.
Follow USA TODAY anchorman Kevin McCoy on Twitter: @kmccoynyc
Copyright 2017 USATODAY.com
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