Nikki Haley's $52,000 Curtains Were Purchased by Obama Officials

The State Department reportedly spent a whopping $52,701 last year on customized motorized curtains for picture windows. The purchase was made during the Obama administration and installed during Nikki Haley's tenure as United Nations ambassador.

The New York Times has reported that the curtains were installed from March to August 2017, with the curtains themselves costing $29,000 and the motors and hardware required to open and close them automatically costing another $22,801.

Haley is the first ambassador to live in the residence, a nearly 6,000-square-foot penthouse located in a new building on Manhattan's First Avenue, which had reportedly been listed at $58,000 a month.

Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley at the State Department on June 19. The department reportedly spent $52,701 on curtains for her residence. ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty

Previous ambassadors had traditionally resided in the Waldorf Astoria hotel, but that came to an end over security concerns after the hotel was purchased by Chinese insurance company Anbang Insurance Group.

A spokesperson for Haley told the Times that while the curtains were installed last year, plans to purchase them were made in 2016 during the Obama administration. The spokesperson asserted that Haley had no say in the matter.

The curtains were purchased at a time when the State Department was undergoing a hiring freeze, as well as funding cuts, under former Secretary Rex Tillerson.

At the time, Tillerson had defended the budget cuts, saying that the State Department budget had ballooned to a high of almost $55 billion in 2016 "for some good reasons" but that the spending was "just not sustainable."

He said 2015's smaller budget of $47.4 billion was a more feasible amount.

The hiring freeze was lifted this past spring by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who replaced Tillerson.

In May, Pompeo appeared to distance himself from cuts proposed in the Trump administration's $39 billion budget for the department in fiscal year 2019. The secretary of state told senators his department would get the resources it needs in fiscal year 2020.

Regardless of when the decision was made and who made it, many have criticized Haley over the purchase.

In a statement posted on social media, Human Rights Watch's European media director Andrew Stroehlein wrote, "When Nikki Haley's not busy rejecting the idea of universal human rights, she's busy spending $52,701 of U.S. taxpayer money on curtains for her residence."

He added, "Milk the people, screw the world. Fine priorities you got there."

Patrick Kennedy, who served as the top management official at the State Department during the Obama administration, defended the purchase, saying that the curtains would be used by future officials and that the residence is also used for entertaining.

"All she's got is a part-time maid," Kennedy told the Times. He also said that the "ability to open and close the curtains quickly" is important for security purposes.

A spokesperson for the State Department referred Newsweek to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations for comment, saying the department had no comment on the purchase.

This story has been updated to reflect that the curtains were purchased during the Obama administration.