Senator tells Ben Carson to stop blaming wife for expensive furniture

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) on Thursday slammed Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson for failing to take full responsibility for a series of recent embarrassments at the agency, including the decision to spend $31,000 of taxpayer funds on a dining room set for his office. 

Carson said at a congressional hearing earlier this week that his wife had been in charge of the redecorating effort, and he was “as surprised as anyone” to find out the furniture came with such a high price tag. 

“Instead of taking responsibility, Mr. Secretary, you seem to want to blame others,” Brown said in his opening remarks during a Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs hearing.

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Ben and Candy Carson together through the years
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Ben and Candy Carson together through the years
Republican U.S. presidential candidate and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson stands with his wife Candy as he officially launches his bid for the Republican presidential nomination in Detroit, Michigan May 4, 2015. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook
59th Governor of Maryland Parris Glendening, Ben Carson, Candy Carson, Frances Hughes, Bruce Miller and orchestra members, Glenwood, Maryland, 1995. (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)
SHARONVILLE, OH - SEPTEMBER 22: Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson kisses his wife Candy during campaign rally on September 22, 2015 in Sharonville, Ohio. Carson came under criticism after expressing his view that he would not support putting 'a Muslim in charge of this nation'. (Photo by Mark Lyons/Getty Images)
Darius Rucker, Candy Carson and Dr. Ben Carson M.D., president and co-founder of Carson Scholars Fund (Photo by Louis Myrie/WireImage)
U.S. President Donald Trump and Ben Carson (C), his nominee to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), joined by Carson's wife, Candy Carson, look at the exhibit dedicated to Carson's distinguished career as a neurosurgeon during a visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
DETROIT, MI - MAY 4: Republican Dr. Ben Carson, a retired pediatric neurosurgeon, hugs his wife Candy as he officially announces his candidacy for President of the United States at the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts May 4, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. Carson was scheduled to travel today to Iowa, but changed his plans when his mother became critically ill. He now will be traveling to Dallas instead to be with his mother Sonya. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Donald Trump's Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson (L) and his wife Candy Carson arrive at the main reviewing stand in front of the White House during the Inaugural Parade on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. Donald J. Trump was sworn in today as the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Republican U.S. Presidential candidate and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (L) and his wife Candy (R) talk to students at the Dr. Benjamin Carson High School of Science and Medicine in Detroit, Michigan May 4, 2015. Carson announced in television interviews on Sunday that he is running for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination and is expected to hold a formal announcement event in Detroit later Monday REUTERS/Rebecca Cook
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson waves after he was introduced with his wife Candy before he delivered the keynote speech at the Black Republican Caucus of South Florida's scholarship gala at the PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida November 6, 2015. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
Columnist, retired neurosurgeon and presidential candidate Ben Carson and his wife Candy greet guests before speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Oxon Hill, Maryland, March 8, 2014. CPAC closes after 3 days where thousands of conservative activists, Republicans and Tea Party Patriots gathered to hear politicians, presidential hopefuls, and business leaders speak, lobby and network for a conservative agenda, looking to Congressional gains in 2014 and a Republican president in 2016. REUTERS/Mike Theiler (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS MEDIA)
New secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Ben Carson is sworn in by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (R) as his wife Candy and grand daughter Tesora hold a bible during a ceremony at the Executive Office in Washington, U.S., March 2, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: Secretary of Housing and Urban Development-designate Ben Carson (L) receives a kiss from his wife Candy Carson (R) after his confirmation hearing before Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee January 12, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Carson is expected to face questions about whether he is experienced enough to run the federal agency. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
LAKEWOOD, CO - OCTOBER 29: Candy Carson (L) looks on as her husband, republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, speaks during a news conference before a campaign event at Colorado Christian University on October 29, 2015 in Lakewood, Colorado. Ben Carson was back on the campaign trail a day after the third republican debate held at the University of Colorado Boulder. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson with his wife Candy Carson campaigning at Nashua Community College in Nashua, NH on December 20,2015. (Photo by Rick Friedman/rickfriedman.com/Corbis via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 07: (L-R) Candy Carson, Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, David Webb, Victoria Osteen and Brian Kilmeade pose for photos at SIRIUS XM Studio on October 7, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images For SiriusXM)
March 20, 2016: Dr. Ben and Candy Carson. Keynote Speaker Donald Trump with guest Dr. Ben Carson attend the Palm Beach Lincoln Day Dinner at Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, Florida (Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg/Corbis via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 02: Ben Carson (L) participates in a swearing-in ceremony, officiated by Vice President Mike Pence (R), as his wife Candy Carson (2nd L) and five-year-old granddaughter Tesora Carson look on in the Vice President's ceremonial office at Eisenhower Executive Office Building March 2, 2017 in Washington, DC. Carson was sworn in as the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary for the Trump Administration. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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“Blaming others seems to be the order of the day in the swamp,” Brown later continued. “Under your leadership, Secretary Carson, HUD has decided a wobbly chair in a private D.C. dining room requires the urgent attention of no fewer than 16 staffers and thousands of taxpayer dollars.”

Carson had previously called the old furniture “dangerous.”

A request to refund the purchase was submitted only after news outlets reported on the extravagant purchase, which a spokesman for Carson initially said would not be returned. Federal guidelines put a $5,000 cap on office decor.

Carson’s subsequent effort to replace the old furniture came out to $3,500.

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HUD Secretary Ben Carson testifies during House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing
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HUD Secretary Ben Carson testifies during House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing
UNITED STATES - MARCH 22: HUD Secretary Ben Carson testifies during a Senate Banking Committee hearing in Dirksen Building on oversight of the Department of Housing and Urban Development on March 22, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 22: Ranking member Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, right, and Chairman Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, conduct a Senate Banking Committee hearing in Dirksen Building on oversight of the Department of Housing and Urban Development featuring testimony by Secretary Ben Carson on March 22, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Ben Carson, secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), center, speaks during a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. The order of a $31,000 dining room table for Carson's office suite and allegations of retaliation against an official who objected to the purchase because it exceeded the $5,000 limit is already the focus of the House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the HUD fiscal year 2019 budget proposal. Photographer: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Ben Carson, secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), listens during a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. The order of a $31,000 dining room table for Carson's office suite and allegations of retaliation against an official who objected to the purchase because it exceeded the $5,000 limit is already the focus of the House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the HUD fiscal year 2019 budget proposal. Photographer: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 20: Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson makes notes as he testifies before the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies on Capitol Hill March 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. Secretary Carson has drawn fire from lawmakers for purchasing furniture for his office suite despite agency cutbacks. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
Ben Carson, secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), speaks during a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. The order of a $31,000 dining room table for Carson's office suite and allegations of retaliation against an official who objected to the purchase because it exceeded the $5,000 limit is already the focus of the House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the HUD fiscal year 2019 budget proposal. Photographer: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 20: Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson arrives to testify before the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies on Capitol Hill March 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. Secretary Carson has drawn fire from lawmakers for purchasing furniture for his office suite despite agency cutbacks. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 20: Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson arrives to testify before the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies on Capitol Hill March 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. Secretary Carson has drawn fire from lawmakers for purchasing furniture for his office suite despite agency cutbacks. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
U.S. Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson testifies before a Senate Banking Committee hearing entitled "Oversight of HUD" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson waits to testify to the House Appropriations Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Subcommittee on the FY2019 budget request for the Department Housing and Urban Development on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson arrives to testify to the House Appropriations Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Subcommittee on the FY2019 budget request for the Department Housing and Urban Development on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
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The housing secretary defended himself at the hearing by pointing to his decision to direct Irving Dennis, HUD’s chief financial officer, to “lead an internal task force within HUD to combat waste, fraud and abuse.” 

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) also criticized Carson for failing to take full responsibility, confronting him with emails reported by CNN that appear to contradict a spokesman’s previous assertion that Carson and his wife were not involved in the $31,000 purchase. Carson later stated he does “not intend to be responsible for what anybody else said.”

Menendez called it “an extraordinary statement because everyone is responsible for what our spokespeople say.”

“If he was wrong, he or you should have had the record set straight,” the senator added. 

Following questioning by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Carson eventually admitted he was responsible for the chair incident.

“Even though I wasn’t aware of the $5,000 requirement I still take responsibility,” Carson said. 

The housing secretary also faced heated questions during the hearing over a proposed budget that would increase HUD-subsidized rent for low-income households.

President Donald Trump has reportedly considered replacing Carson in the aftermath of the chair incident. 

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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