Here is Ben Carson’s initial response when CNN reported on the purchase of a $31,000 dining room set for his office:
“New tables, chairs, in that room whatsoever — zero awareness of this purchase being made,” the spokesman said. “Neither one of them knew this purchase was being made. The secretary knew that the table and chairs were old because somebody fell out of a chair once. That’s literally it. So they had nothing to do with the purchase, nothing to do with anything around that.”
Emails show Carson and his wife selected the furniture themselves. An August email from a career administration staffer, with the subject line “Secretary’s dining room set needed,” to Carson’s assistant refers to “printouts of the furniture the Secretary and Mrs. Carson picked out.”…The career administration staffer sent the quote to Carson’s office, specifically Carson’s chief of staff and his executive assistant, casting further doubt on the agency’s assertion that the purchase was made entirely by career staff.
But you know what makes this really bizarre? Carson didn’t especially want the dining room furniture in the first place:
Why lie about this? The true story, it turns out, is that a Carson aide asked if the dining room chairs could be repaired. They were 30 years old and had become wobbly. Career staff eventually suggested a new dining room set, which Carson didn’t really want. He preferred using the budget money for portraits of previous HUD secretaries. However, that was prohibited by Congress, so the money went to the dining room set instead. Candy Carson was apparently so uninterested in the whole thing that Jacie Coressel was “still waiting” to hear from her a day after her initial email. Eventually, though, Carson and his wife had some input into which dining room set to buy, and three weeks later the quote came in—which a career staffer called “very reasonable.”
There’s nothing really wrong with any of this. Why lie about it?