The New York Times has published a report which states that the US State Department spent over $52,701 last year on customised and mechanised curtains for the official residence of US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley during a time when the department was undergoing deep budget cuts and had frozen hiring, PTI reported.
The report notes how Haley is the first US Ambassador to live in the residence, which is a few blocks away from the UN headquarters in New York. Her predecessors before her had lived in in the Waldorf Astoria hotel near the UN, but following its purchase by a Chinese insurance company, the State Department directed in 2016, citing security concerns, for another place to be chosen.
A spokesman for Haley said plans to buy the curtains were made in 2016, during the Obama administration and that Nikki Haley had no say in the purchase.
Citing contracts, the report said that the curtains cost $29,900, while the motors and hardware necessary to open and close them automatically cost $22,801. They were installed from March to August 2017.
Nikki Haley is currently the highest ranking Indian-American in the Donald Trump administration.
The NYT report said that Haley’s curtains are more expensive than the $31,000 dining room set purchased for the office of Ben Carson, the secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The $31,000 purchase had even the US President Donald Trump consider to fire him.
“While Haley’s curtains were being ordered and installed, Rex W Tillerson, the administration’s first secretary of state, had frozen hiring, pushed out many of the department’s most senior diplomats and proposed cutting the department’s budget by 31 per cent. In embassies around the world, projects were eliminated, jobs were left unfilled and the delegation to last year’s United Nations General Assembly meeting was slashed,” the report said.
The report quoted White House official in the Obama administration Brett Bruen as saying that how could more than $50,000 be spent on a customised curtain system for the ambassador to the UN when “you…tell diplomats that basic needs cannot be met.”
Patrick Kennedy, the top management official at the State Department during the Obama administration, however, defended the purchase, saying that it would probably be used for years and that it was needed for both security and entertaining purposes.
“All she’s got is a part-time maid, and the ability to open and close the curtains quickly is important,” Kennedy said.
“The full-floor penthouse, with handsome hardwood floors covering large open spaces stretching nearly 6,000 square feet, was listed at $58,000 a month,” the report stated.