The State Department spent $52,701 last year on motorized curtains for Nikki Haley ‘s official residence as ambassador to the United Nations at a time when the department was cutting its budget and freezing hiring.
Window coverings for the government residence in Manhattan included $29,900 for curtains and $22,801 for “electrical hardware and supplies” to open and close them automatically, according to the contract, first reported by The New York Times.
The curtains were installed in the First Avenue penthouse from March to August last year, but plans for the purchase were made in 2016, during the Obama administration, and Haley had nothing to do with the decision, a State Department spokesman told the Times.
While the curtains were being purchased and installed, Rex W. Tillerson, President Donald Trump’s first secretary of state, had imposed a hiring freeze, cut the department’s budget by 31 percent and was pushing out senior diplomats.
“How can you, on the one hand, tell diplomats that basic needs cannot be met and, on the other hand, spend more than $50,000 on a customized curtain system for the ambassador to the U.N.?” Brett Bruen, a White House official in the Obama administration, asked in the Times article.
Patrick Kennedy, a top management official at the State Department during the Obama administration, defended the curtains. He told the Times the window coverings “would probably be used for years” and were needed for security and entertainment purposes.
Haley is the first U.N. ambassador to live in the official residence. Her predecessors stayed in the Waldorf Astoria hotel, but the State Department decided in 2016 to relocate the ambassador due to security concerns. The nearly 6,000-square-foot apartment was previously listed for rent at $58,000 a month, according to the Times.
Many people on social media had questions about the curtains, of course, and plenty of commentary:
Say what you will, if it all goes to hell, Nikki Haley will have something nice to wear. pic.twitter.com/904qqLc69J
– Schooley (@Rschooley) September 14, 2018
58k per month for @nikkihaley’s apartment in NY is waay expensive, even by NYC standards. https://t.co/aGEvJjpzss
– Soledad O’Brien (@soledadobrien) September 14, 2018
Young conservatives when the left attacks Nikki Haley pic.twitter.com/nThlPmfUIe
– Gregory J. Price (@greg_price11) September 14, 2018
Me after reading the article about Nikki Haley and her damn curtains 🙄🤦♀ pic.twitter.com/SExCMOHyOU
– Savannah // DEMAND CHANGE (@leni_leos) September 14, 2018
State Dept., suffering from budget cuts, paid $52,000 for curtains in Nikki Haley’s $58,000 per month taxpayer funded Manhattan apartment. #MorningJoe pic.twitter.com/8F0tFcJJpO
– THE CONNET (@THEAlleyeceeing) September 14, 2018
Guys, those weren’t just any $52,000 curtains, Nikki Haley needed a couture ball gown for a state dinner, come on. pic.twitter.com/UQrXeSbgPZ
– Tavie (rhymes with gravy) (also abolish ICE) (@TheRealTavie) September 14, 2018
The headline of this story has been amended to reflect updates to the New York Times article clarifying when and for whom the curtains were ordered.