Political News

What kind of chair can you get for $5,000?

Posted February 27, 2018 3:29 p.m. EST

— The hook into a whistleblower complaint levied against the office of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is that the budget for his office redecoration wouldn't be enough for even an adequate seat.

Writes CNN's Rene Marsh:

"The former chief administrative officer for the Department of Housing and Urban Development says she was demoted in part for refusing to spend more than was legally allowed to redecorate Secretary Ben Carson's new office.

In a November 2017 complaint obtained by CNN, Helen Foster said she was told to 'find money' beyond the legal $5,000 limit for redecorating. In one instance, she says a supervisor said that '$5,000 will not even buy a decent chair.'"

The entire story is very much worth reading and it's the latest in a string of unfortunate headlines targeting Trump administration Cabinet officials for their largesse with public funds.

It later emerged via The New York Times that a $31,000 dining set was purchased for Carson's office even as the administration proposed slashing programs for the poor. The other Cabinet officials facing questions have largely centered on travel and trips taken on the taxpayer dime.

Who knows if the supposed lament about the $5,000 chair was intentional hyperbole or a serious complaint. But $5,000 does seem like an excessive amount for a chair, although there are some fancy chairs to be had at that price point for online shoppers.

The Brio Massage Chair is advertised at $4,999 on its website with this description:

"Take a vacation from your everyday. Make your escape in the Positive Posture Brio. Its L-Track Massage Technology means that Brio provides a true full-body massage from head to toe delivering relaxing relief to areas often missed by other massage chairs."

Less comforting but more stylish is the Mid-Century Modern Herman Miller 670 Lounge Chair with Ottoman by Charles Eames, offered online at $5,250, or $462 per month on a payment plan.

A more typical government worker solution might be the High Back Mesh Chair with Seat Slider, advertised as a GSA approved furniture solution for $239.

It turns out that finding the right chair for a government office is something people have spent a lot of time on and there are federal standards on the GSA (Government Services Administration) website and there's a whole market of furniture aimed at government contracts, which even include technical specifications for things like "intensive use chairs."

Who knows if this Art Deco Bark Leather Chair would meet the government requirements for a chair that's to be used 24/7.

But it can be had for $4,500, so maybe it's a steal.