HUD Secretary Ben Carson Cleared Of Misconduct In $31,000 Furniture Probe

Topline: Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson has been cleared of any wrongdoing in an ethics probe into the purchase of a $31,000 dining room set for his office suite that created a media firestorm last year.

  • A U.S. Inspector General investigation found that while HUD staff members failed to inform Congress of the impending purchase—a violation of federal law—the order was eventually canceled after the story broke in the media. 
  • Career HUD officials, not Carson, determined the furniture in Carson’s office suite was in poor condition and needed to be replaced, the investigation found.
  • The entire matter was left up to Carson’s staff and his wife, Cindy, who was in charge of “stylistic” input.
  • “We found no evidence indicating that either Secretary or Mrs. Carson exerted improper influence on any departmental employee in connection with the procurement,” the report said. 
  • The investigation found that HUD staff failed to inform Congress of the purchase because they didn’t understand when the law was applicable or that it covers furniture in the entire suite, not just the immediate office. 

Key background: When news of the purchase broke, critics went after Carson for making such an exorbitant order when the agency had just announced plans to cut programs helping the elderly, poor and homeless. At the time, blame for the incident was seemingly placed on Carson’s wife. 

Tangent: Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, burst onto the political scene when he ran for president in the 2016 Republican primary. He eventually dropped out. Before his political career, he was known for being the first person to separate twins conjoined at the head. 

Further reading: Read the full Inspector General report here.

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I’m a San Francisco-based reporter covering breaking news at Forbes. Previously, I’ve reported for USA Today, Business Insider, The San Francisco Business Times and San

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