Trump Cabinet Officials’ Office Renovations

President Trump campaigned on a promise to 'drain the swamp' and tackle corruption in Washington, but rather than cutting waste, Trump's cabinet has been spending taxpayer money to upgrade their own offices. From Scott Pruitt's secret phone booth to Ben Carson's dining set and more, American Oversight is investigating how much Trump's cabinet members have spent office makeovers.

What We’re Seeking:

  • Invoices for any purchases, or attempted purchases, for renovations or redecorations in the offices of senior political appointees.
  • Emails and other communications discussing renovations or redecorations, or potential renovations or redecorations, in the offices of senior political appointees.

Agencies Included in our Investigation are:

  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Energy
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • General Services Administration
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Department of the Interior
  • Department of Justice
  • Department of Labor
  • Small Business Administration
  • Office of the United States Trade Representative
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of the Treasury
  • Department of Veterans’ Affairs
  • Office of Management and Budget
  • Department of State

Background:

President Trump has proposed significant cuts to federal agency budgets for fiscal years 2018 and 2019, citing the need to decrease government spending. Public programs that help millions of American families, including nutrition assistance, educational grants, housing aid, and job training, stand to lose millions of dollars of government funding.

At the same time, officials in Trump’s own cabinet have adopted lavish spending habits, with taxpayers often footing the bill for expenses from private jets to opulent furniture. American Oversight has launched a broad investigation into cabinet secretaries’ office renovation expenses. The public deserves to know if our leaders are more concerned with giving themselves cushy offices than working to improve the lives of the American people.

In November 2017, American Oversight filed FOIA requests with 23 agencies seeking records of office renovation expenses, and December 2017, we sued the Environmental Protection agency to obtain records related to Administrator Scott Pruitt’s office. That lawsuit uncovered documents showing that Pruitt’s secret phone booth – which had been previously reported to cost taxpayers around $25,000 – actually cost $43,000 to build and install. We also learned that Pruitt purchased a $3,000 custom-made standing desk for his office.

Following news reports of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson’s attempt to purchase a $31,000 dining set, we sued HUD for all communications related to that decision. Carson initially denied all knowledge of the purchase, but he was caught in a lie when we uncovered internal agency emails showing that both the secretary and his wife were directly involved in selecting the furniture.

We filed a broad, multi-agency lawsuit against 16 other cabinet departments, including Treasury, Commerce, and State on March 14, 2018 seeking similar records.

Related Documents

April 6, 2018

EPA Administrator Pruitt Office Renovation Expenses

Environmental Protection Agency
Agency Record
March 30, 2018

FOIA to IAF Regarding Office Renovations

Inter-American Foundation
FOIA Request
March 14, 2018

VA Office of Enterprise Integration NRR Regarding Renovation Expenses

Department of Veterans Affairs
Agency Reply
March 12, 2018

HUD Secretary Carson Office Renovation Expense Records

Department of Housing and Urban Development
Agency Record
March 1, 2018

FOIA Seeking Communications Related to HUD’s Public Statements About Renovations

Department of Housing and Urban Development
FOIA Request
February 28, 2018

No Records Response From ICE Regarding Renovations

Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Agency Reply
February 27, 2018

Complaint: American Oversight v. HUD: Office Renovations

Department of Housing and Urban Development
Litigation
December 21, 2017

No Records Response From OSTP Regarding Office Renovations

Office of Science and Technology Policy
Agency Record
December 14, 2017

DHS No Records Response Regarding Office Renovations

Department of Homeland Security
Agency Reply
December 5, 2017

Complaint: American Oversight v. EPA – Office Renovations

Environmental Protection Agency
Litigation
November 30, 2017

NRR From SEC Regarding Office Renovations

Securities and Exchange Commission
Agency Reply
November 29, 2017

CEQ No Records Response Regarding Office Renovations

Council on Environmental Quality
Agency Reply
November 2, 2017

FOIA to Multiple Agencies for Senior Official Office Renovation Expenses

Council on Environmental Quality, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Department of the Treasury, Department of Transportation, Department of Veterans Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, Office of Management and Budget, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Securities and Exchange Commission, Small Business Administration
FOIA Request