Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) appeared to blame the nefarious “Deep State” for ordering a costly dining set for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson.
During a recent appearance on Talk! Of the Town, an upstate New York local radio show, the New York Republican was asked about the decision to buy a $31,000 dining room set for Carson’s office last year. Tenney told the hosts that the “Ben Carson story is so misunderstood” before pointing to a no-named staffer of cryptic origin as the culprit.
“First of all, I like Ben Carson a lot. I think he’s really trying to do a great job there. But his staffer, one of his key people, was in my office the other day to talk about some of the housing issues that we have in our region and we were talking about that and he said ‘you know, that’s the most…” Tenney said trailing off.
“Somebody in the Deep State, it was not one of his people apparently, ordered a table, like a conference room table or whatever it was for a room,” Tenney continued. “And that’s what the cost was. Ben Carson tried to—he said “you know how hard it is to turn it back because of the way that the procurement happens?”
The “Deep State” is a catch all phrase for the cadre of career government staffers that conspiratorial-minded Republicans believe has been weaponized to undermine Donald Trump’s administration. It was not clear if Tenney was agreeing with the conclusion offered by the staffer that the Deep State was behind Carson’s furniture purchase or if she was offering her own line of thinking on the matter. Either way, Tenney’s statement appears to be wrong. A tranche of recently-released emails indicated that Carson and his wife were directly involved in the process of picking out furniture.
Carson testified about the matter before the House Appropriations subcommittee on Tuesday, saying that he left a bulk of a decision-making on the purchase to his wife and other aides.
“I invited my wife to come and help,” Carson said. “I left it to my wife, you know, to choose something. I dismissed myself from the issues.”
He contended that both he and his wife were unhappy with the price tag.
Later in her interview, Tenney was pressed by the hosts as to why such an expensive order took place at all, questioning whether it was nepotism that had something to do with it.
“Nepotism is when you hire a family member,” Tenney corrected them. “What it is is that people in the Deep State who’ve been there, they might be—they say ‘hey we’re going to buy this because this is what somebody else did.’
“I know that Ben Carson did not order that table,” Tenney continued. “It has nothing to do with him. He comes from, you know, poverty.”
Tenney is quickly gathering a reputation for headline-grabbing commentary about the state of current affairs. She recently said of former staff secretary Rob Porter, who left the White House after being accused of domestic abuse: “I don’t think it was a great hire if these are true, but again, are these true?” She also recently described it as “interesting that so many of these people that commit the mass murders end up being Democrats.”
A spokesperson for Tenney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.