A New York Times report today detailed the State Department spending on Nikki Haley’s official residence as United Nations ambassador, which includes $52,701 electric curtains.
Haley’s camp says that decisions about the apartment were made back in the Obama days. But those few Americans who draw themselves close to power in the United States are often afforded some nice creature comforts for their public service. Whether they gain their position by skill, luck, narcissism, deep pockets, and/or good breeding, that’s just how it seems to work out. Not to mention the board positions, consulting gigs, and speaking engagements that await one-time power brokers once they leave office.
In the current administration, you’ve heard about HUD Sec. Ben Carson’s $30,000 table. And ex-HHS Sec. Tom Price’s extravagant travel. And EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s cheap D.C. apartment rented from a lobbyist. And the millions that Secret Service has requested to keep up with the first family’s travel between Trump properties and Washington.
But the trappings of cushy political life, whether pursued or just matter of fact, are not limited to Trump appointees or Republicans.
For decades, the American people have paid for their United Nations ambassador to live their best life in a high-rise Manhattan apartment. In 2016, the ambassador’s residence was moved to newer swanky digs after a secretive Chinese conglomerate bought the building which housed the previous pad.
Haley’s new home, paid for by American tax dollars, was offered to rent for a cool $58,000 per month, “waay expensive, even by NYC standards,” TV journalist Soledad Obrien said on Twitter. And just so you can plan, it apparently takes about six months to install $52,701 curtains in a 6,000 square foot NYC penthouse.
Again, a Haley spokesman says that the decision to move the residence and how to outfit it were made before the 2016 election and she “had no say” in the choice. A source told CNN’s Jake Tapper that the process that eventually landed on the expensive curtains was standard operating procedure.
But that $52,701 is roughly 12 percent more than the $46,898 median household income in Haley’s home state of South Carolina. The cost is nearly triple the per capita income in Haley’s childhood home of Bamberg County, where median household income is $32,321, according to 2016 Census data.
As ambassador, Haley is the lead United States diplomat at the United Nations, a group charged with maintaining international peace and mitigating human rights issues abroad.
Defending the curtains, former State Department deputy and current Democratic Congressman Patrick Kennedy told the Times, “All she’s got is a part-time maid, and the ability to open and close the curtains quickly is important.”