Congressional Committees Investigate Pompeo’s ‘Madison Dinners’
May 25, 2020 (EIRNS)—Two Congressional Committees have opened investigations of Secretary of State Pompeo’s lavish spending for a series of government-funded dinners, due to alarm over “potential abuses,” NBC reporters Josh Lederman, Laura Strickler, and Dan DeLuce reported on NBC News May 21. State Department Inspector General Steve Linick was abruptly fired by President Donald Trump Friday night, May 22; Linick was investigating whether Pompeo had had a political appointee carry out personal errands for the Secretary, NBC said. The network also covered Pompeo’s political self-promotion through the dinners in a May 19 story by the same reporters.
Before the coronavirus shut them down in March, the “Madison Dinners” begun by Pompeo and his wife, Susan, had been going on since 2018 at the rate of approximately one a month, to which about 500 people were invited. NBC reports that about 29% of the invitees came from the corporate world; about 25% from the media or entertainment sector, and a significant representation of conservative media figures. Only 14% were diplomats or foreign officials. About 30% work in government or politics, and every member of the House or Senate invited has been a Republican.
The Democratic Chairs of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, New Yorkers Carolyn Maloney and Eliot Engel, said in a joint letter to Pompeo, NBC reported on May 21, that “there was no clear purpose” for the roughly two dozen dinners Pompeo hosted in the historic Diplomatic Reception rooms. “We are concerned about a new media report this week that describes a series of lavish dinners that you have been hosting with prominent Republican officials, commentators, and public figures—all at taxpayer expense,.” They requested guest lists, attendee manifests for every dinner; invoices, expenditures, and approvals for the dinners, including salary and overtime costs for State Department workers and vendors involved, and all ethics guidance the State Department sought and received for the dinners.
NBC reported May 19 that State Department officials involved said they had raised concerns internally that the events were using federal resources to cultivate a donor and supporter base for Pompeo’s own political ambitions. These officials told NBC that the Department’s legal adviser told them events hosted by Pompeo should be related to foreign policy. The dinners are paid for out of the State Department’s Emergencies Fund in the Diplomatic and Consular Service Appropriations, known as the “K Fund,” NBC reports. It can be used for “confidential requirements in the conduct of foreign affairs, as well as other authorized activities that further ... U.S. foreign policy objectives,” according to the State Department’s website, says NBC.
State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus defended the dinner parties as “a world-class opportunity to discuss the mission of the State Department and the complex foreign policy matters facing the nation.”
But one “senior Trump official” who requested anonymity told NBC, “If the President knew about any of this, he would have fired Pompeo months ago.”