Biden's Director of National Intelligence Dropped $12K on Custom 'Executive' Chairs

Avril Haines's office also spent $3K on new art for office, documents show

DNI Avril Haines (Graeme Jennings-Pool/Getty Images)
January 20, 2022

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) spent an exorbitant amount of taxpayer money on "executive furniture" for agency head Avril Haines, according to documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Weeks after Haines was confirmed as director of national intelligence, her office spent $12,134 on four office chairs, according to a government procurement order obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. An ODNI employee asked in the order for "appropriate executive furniture that meets the level of the position in which they are charged with." ODNI said it needed the chairs by April 1, 2021.

Additional documents obtained by the Free Beacon show Haines and three others were ultimately supplied with the Joyce Chair from Councill Contract, outfitted with ebony leather. Each chair cost $2,759.

Haines is the latest government official to drop taxpayer dollars on swanky goods. The Free Beacon reported in October that Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack spent nearly $2,000 on an uninspiring set of drapes. Under former president Barack Obama, the State Department spent $52,000 on curtains for the Manhattan residence of the ambassador to the United Nations. The New York Times in 2017 slammed then-secretary of housing and urban development Ben Carson's office for purchasing a $31,000 dining room set.

The most expensive office chair available from office furniture giant Staples costs less than $1,000.

It is unclear whether Haines, a 52-year-old woman with no documented back problems, was directly involved in the orders, as all names on the documents are redacted. It is also unclear how much spinal damage has been done to ODNI employees forced to sit in non-executive office chairs.

Haines's office also spent more than $3,000 for a seven-piece art installation that features photos of D.C. landmarks. The set includes a photo of the Capitol taken by Valeriy Tourchin, a Russian native known as "Black Russian." According to his website, Tourchin earned the nickname "for having mostly black friends and (as my friends saying) 'shooting black people.'"

Update, February 2, 4:30 p.m.: A previous version of this story stated that the chairs were purchased from furniture company Haworth, which is also listed in the government procurement order but was not part of the transaction. ODNI purchased the chairs from Councill Contract.