Ben Carson is pointing the finger at his wife for buying a $31,000 dining set, telling a Congressional panel on Tuesday that it was her decision to make the controversial buy.
Carson had been under fire for the purchase, which went in his office as head of U.S. Housing and Urban Development. Carson was questioned about the purchase by members of the House Appropriations subcommittee, Boston.com reported, and he said that the purchasing decision was left to his wife.
“I left it with my wife,” Carson said of the decision on how to furnish his office. “The next thing I heard… was this $31,000 table had been bought.”
Carson said he did know about the purchase until learning about it through the media, and that he canceled it as soon as he found out about it.
This was a far cry from the official response from the department, which initially said that Ben Carson and his wife played no role in selecting the expensive dining set. Emails uncovered later showed that Carson was actually involved in the purchase.
During Tuesday’s appearance before Congress, Ben Carson said he was not trying to mislead the public about his role in purchasing the dining set, Bloomberg News reported. Carson also said he was not responsible for what anyone else said, distancing himself from the original explanation that he had nothing to do with the purchase.
But the hearing still brought controversy including some who questioned why Ben Carson’s wife, who does not hold an official government title, would be authorized to make such a large purchase on behalf of a federal department.
— The Hill (@thehill) March 20, 2018
Why is Ben Carson’s wife making spending decisions with taxpayer dollars for the federal government? https://t.co/de6OqPTQGt
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) March 20, 2018
The criticism dovetails with a common complaint about Donald Trump’s administration that it has placed power in the hands of those with little to no experience. That criticism has often been lobbed at Trump’s own family, particularly daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, who hold key White House advisor positions despite having no prior experience as either diplomats or in government. Democrats recently called on Donald Trump to fire Jared Kushner, who does not have security clearance.
After the controversy over the $31,000 dining set, Ben Carson canceled the order and the U.S. Treasury Department received a full refund.