Taxpayers Picked Up the Tab, He Picked Up His Guests’ Political Support, His Wife Kept Their Personal Information
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the past two years held dozens of elite and secret State Department dinners at “Foggy Bottom,” the Harry S. Truman Building that is home to the nation’s diplomatic corps.
Named for the nation’s fifth Secretary of State and fourth President, Pompeo’s “Madison Dinners,” as he branded them, at times featured French 75 cocktails, a harpist, group photos by the fireplace, tours of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms, and several hours of conversation. Parting gifts included a $23.75 pen “custom-embossed with the Madison Dinner logos,” as NBC News reveals in their exclusive investigation. Hundreds of the gifts were ordered in 2018, the year Pompeo took over after his predecessor’s unceremonious ouster.
Taxpayers picked up the tab each time, for everything.
Invited guests included millionaires and billionaires, a race car driver, several influential Fox News hosts, Supreme Court justices, Congressmen and Senators – Republicans only – but few actual diplomats.
Many of the guests were “major players in Republican politics, such as former Bush strategist Karl Rove and David Urban, a lobbyist and political consultant on Trump’s 2020 advisory committee. Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch appear on the list, as do Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, although it’s unclear whether all of them attended.”
In fact, just 14 percent of the 500 total guests invited to attend were diplomats or foreign officials. That could be a problem if Pompeo has to defend how he – or rather, how taxpayers – paid for the extravagant evenings.
“The dinners,” NBC reports, “are paid for out of the State Department’s Emergencies in the Diplomatic and Consular Service Appropriation, known as the ‘K Fund,’ which can be used for ‘confidential requirements in the conduct of foreign affairs as well as other authorized activities that further the realization of U.S. foreign policy objectives,’ according to the State Department’s website. Current and former officials said that to comply with the spirit of the appropriation, State Department officials generally work to ensure that a significant proportion of foreign dignitaries or officials attend.”
It’s difficult to explain how many of the guests, like NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chick-fil-A Chairman Dan Cathy, country singer Reba McEntire, or “Fox & Friends” host Brian Kilmeade could be helping Secretary Pompeo “further the realization of U.S. foreign policy objectives.” Also difficult to explain are former Major League Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth, American Gaming Association President Bill Miller, or Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion lobbying organization Susan B. Anthony List.
And there are plenty of billionaire “business moguls,” including AOL co-founder Steve Case, GOP megadonors like Home Depot founder Ken Langone, hedge fund executive Paul Singer, and Texas real estate tycoon Harlan Crow.
“The CEO of Chick-fil-A is not someone I would say is involved in foreign policy,” a source familiar with the dinners told NBC News.
Also important is Pompeo’s wife’s role in the dinners, and what the couple plan to do with the information she has collected.
“Officials involved in carrying out the dinners say all the information collected by the State Department during the invitation process, including the names and contact information for potential guests, is emailed back and forth to Susan Pompeo’s private Gmail account. Two congressional officials expressed concern that information could then be used by Pompeo as a potential donor Rolodex if he runs for office again. The Hatch Act prohibits most federal employees from engaging in political activity at work or in their official capacities.”
Enjoy this piece?
… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.
NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.
Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.
- FIRST AMENDMENT? WHAT FIRST AMENDMENT?3 days ago
Draft of Trump Executive Order Would Have Barr and White House Collect Information on Social Media Users: Reports
- THIS IS HOW IT'S DONE3 days ago
‘Show Us the Flynn Tapes or Buzz Off’: Dem Rep. Swalwell Destroys Trump’s Former DNI in Epic Twitter ‘Bloodbath’
- PRESIDENT 5-YEAR OLD2 days ago
In Flailing All-Caps Rant Trump Admits if Americans Are Allowed to Vote by Mail It Will Be ‘The End’ of the GOP
- THAT SETTLES THAT1 day ago
‘Not Exculpatory’: Just-Declassified Transcripts Prove Flynn Lied – ‘He Also Betrayed America’
- AMERICAN IDIOT3 days ago
Trump Promises to Sign Executive Order Today to Punish Tech Firms After Twitter Fact-Checked Two of His Tweets
- AMERICAN IDIOT2 days ago
Watch: Trump Warns Kids in California Are Committing Voter Fraud by ‘Raiding Mailboxes’ for Vote by Mail Ballots
- FIRST AMENDMENT? WHAT FIRST AMENDMENT?2 days ago
Watch: CNN’s Omar Jimenez Describes His On-Camera Arrest by Minnesota State Police After Being Released
- FIRST AMENDMENT? WHAT FIRST AMENDMENT?2 days ago
Barr Blasts Social Media’s ‘Bait and Switch’ and ‘Censorship’ as Trump Suggests He’d Shut Down Twitter