President Trump’s ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, reportedly had curtains installed in her New York residence that cost the administration over $50,000, reports The Hill.
The installment of the $29,000 curtains and $22,801 motorized opener for the curtains came at a time when the State Department was implementing budget cuts and a hiring freeze. The installation took place last year during Haley’s tenure as ambassador and were ordered just after Rex W. Tillerson, the administration’s first secretary of state, had pushed out many of the administration’s senior diplomats and proposed a 31 percent budget cut.
Patrick Kennedy, a top State Department official under the Obama administration, told The New York Times that the purchase was justified because Haley only had a part-time maid working at her residence and they were necessary for security and entertainment reasons.
“All she’s got is a part-time maid, and the ability to open and close the curtains quickly is important.”
However, many other officials during Obama’s run as president criticized the purchase, calling into question the absurdity of $52,000 curtains at a time when the administration was in drastic need of implementing budget cuts.
Brett Bruen, an Obama White House aide, questioned, “How can you, on the one hand, tell diplomats that basic needs cannot be met and, on the other hand, spend more than $50,000 on a customized curtain system for the ambassador to the U.N.?”
The residence, a full-floor, 6,000 sq ft penthouse with wood floors, was listed at $58,000 a month, says The New York Times. It is leased by the government and located just blocks from the delegation’s offices. Haley is the first ambassador to live in the apartment that is often used for official entertaining. A spokesman for Haley said that she had no say in the curtain purchase.
Other high-cost purchases made during Trump’s term as president have undergone intense scrutiny. The curtains are more expensive than the $31,000 dining set bought by Housing Secretary Ben Carson last year. The controversial purchase came at a time when the Department of Housing and Urban Development planned to cut programs for the homeless, elderly and poor, according to federal procurement records.
The dining set was not approved by the House or Senate Appropriations Committees before the purchase, even though federal law requires congressional approval “to furnish or redecorate the office of a department head” for purchases over $5,000.
Carson’s decision and the resulting public relations disaster almost resulted in him getting fired from the administration, according to White House aides.