By Lukas Mikelionis
Published September 14, 2018
Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is drawing criticism over curtains in her official residence costing nearly $53,000 — purchased amid deep budget cuts in the State Department. Trouble is, the purchase was approved in 2016, under the Obama administration.
The New York Times reported this week that $52,701 was spent last year on buying customized and mechanized curtains for the picture windows in Haley’s New York City residence, for which rent is $58,000 a month.
But the paper didn't mention until the sixth paragraph that Haley's spokesman said the Trump administration had no input in the purchase decision.
Some online critics apparently missed that detail.
"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.?"
“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, told the Times.
“When @nikkihaley's not busy rejecting the idea of universal human rights, she's busy spending $52,701 of US tax payer money on curtains for her residence. Milk the people, screw the world. Fine priorities you got there,” Andrew Stroehlein, Human Rights Watch’s European Media Director, wrote in a tweet.
The curtains themselves reportedly cost nearly $30,000, but the hardware needed to operate them cost an additional $22,801. The curtains were installed last year.
Patrick Kennedy, the top management official at the State Department during the Obama administration, defended the spending, saying the curtains will be used by future officials and cited security and entertainment purposes.
“All she’s got is a part-time maid, and the ability to open and close the curtains quickly is important,” Kennedy told the newspaper.
The State Department, under former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, had frozen hiring, reduced diplomatic staff and proposed cutting the department’s budget by 31 percent.