Ben Carson Lied About His Dining Room Set For No Reason

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.”

Today’s news:

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?

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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