The inspector general for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) cleared Secretary Ben Carson of misconduct regarding an expensive furniture order placed in late 2017.
The government watchdog completed the report on Wednesday after spending more than a year investigating whether Carson made an improper purchase of a $31,561 dining set for his office, Fox News reported.
The inspector general found that Carson delegated the furniture purchasing to members of his staff “in consultation with his wife, who provided stylistic input after the Department decided to purchase new furniture.”
“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 stated. “We did not find sufficient evidence to substantiate allegations of misconduct on the part of Secretary Carson in connection with this procurement.”
The inspector general discovered that HUD staff began in mid-2017 to replace Carson’s furniture inside his dining room suite. Officials set aside $31,561 in departmental funds on December 21, 2017, for the purchase of new furniture, but did not notify House or Senate appropriations committees before taking action.
The department never got the furniture, as Carson himself canceled the order on March 1, 2018.
Carson said that it was HUD staffers who consulted his wife that made the decision about the furniture purchase after the furniture in his office was deemed to be “unsafe.”
“You know I’m not really big into decorating. If it were up to me, my office would probably look like a hospital waiting room. At any rate, I invited my wife in to come help me,” he said before the House Appropriations Committee in 2018.
“The prices were beyond what I wanted to pay and I made it clear that just didn’t seem right to me,” Carson added. “I left it with my wife, I said ‘help choose something.”