Rep. Claudia Tenney found herself on a rhetorical island again Wednesday after she claimed the so-called “deep state” was responsible for ordering an extravagantly priced dining set for Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson’s office.
“Ben Carson is so misunderstood,” the New York Republican said on a local upstate New York radio show before blaming an unnamed person in the deep state for ordering the furniture.
The “deep state,” a term popular in far-right circles, refers to a conspiratorial cabal of longtime government officials and financial titans who seek to influence policy and politics through non-democratically elected office.
One of Carson’s staffers — “one of his key people” — was in Tenney’s office recently to discuss housing issues in the congresswoman’s district when they broached the Carson furniture affair, she said.
“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 said. “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?’”
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Carson claimed in a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Tuesday that his wife was responsible for ordering the $31,000 dining set.
Emails obtained by liberal watchdog group American Oversight through a Freedom of Information Act request indicated Carson and his wife gave input for the furniture selection. But Carson maintains someone else pulled the trigger on the purchase.
“The next thing that I, quite frankly, heard about it was that this $31,000 table had been bought,” Carson testified at his subcommittee hearing Tuesday. “I said, ‘What the heck is that all about?’ I investigated, [and] I immediately had it canceled. Not that we don’t need the furniture, but I thought that that was excessive.”
Tenney did not believe Carson would purchase such a dining room set due to his family’s tenuous financial situation growing up.
“I know that Ben Carson did not order that table,” Tenney said. “It has nothing to do with him. He comes from poverty.”
It’s not the first time one of Tenney’s local radio interviews has gone viral for something she said.
The congresswoman made headlines in February when she said in an interview after the Parkland high school shooting that “so many” of the people who commit mass murders “end up being Democrats.”
“The media doesn’t talk about that,” she added.
Tenney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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