Pompeos violated rules on use of State Department resources, IG finds

By searching emails and other documents and interviewing staff, investigators uncovered numerous cases of Mike or Susan Pompeo asking State Department staff to do personal chores, from booking salon appointments and private dinner reservations to pickup her dog and organizing tours for the political allies of the Pompeos. Staff told investigators that they considered Susan Pompeo’s requests, which were not on the federal payroll, to be supported by the secretary.

It has not been definitively determined that all over 100 instances constitute a rule violation.

Mike Pompeo, in an interview with investigators, insisted that the inquiries were often small and the kind of things friends do for friends. His attorney, William Burck, slammed a draft of the report he received as a politically biased “Compilation of Picayune Complaints Selected by the Authors”.

The Inspector General’s Office, however, defended the investigation, noting that many of the rules for such interactions are clear, make no exceptions for small tasks, and that the Pompeos’ requests ultimately add up to use a significant portion of the staff’s time paid by taxpayers .

The tasks of the employees were very different.

For example, Susan Pompeo asked staff to buy a t-shirt for a friend. ensure that flowers are sent to friends who are recovering from the disease; and help her book hairdressing appointments when she was in New York during the United States General Assembly and needed to meet with foreign dignitaries. For a year, a senior advisor to the secretary and a senior foreign service official came in over a weekend to “wrap, address and mail personal Christmas cards for the Pompeos,” the report said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs staff were also given more intensive tasks, such as B. the planning of events, also for groups to which the Pompeos belonged, but which were not active in the government.

The apparently personal Pompeo duties required time, either on duty or off duty, the report says. The Pompeos did not separately compensate employees for work that was not related to the Foreign Ministry, the report said.

The report mentions in detail the personal duties of a government employee, using only the title “Senior Adviser”. However, the description of her background matches that of Toni Porter, who joined Pompeo as Senior Adviser at Foggy Bottom after working for him in Congress and head of the CIA.

Mike Pompeo described Porter to investigators as a longtime family friend, but Porter told investigators that “for the most part she believed she was performing the duties described in this report as part of her official duties.” Many of the inquiries Porter handled were clearly related to State Department business; others appeared not to be.

Porter was assigned many of the apparently personal inquiries. Investigators found that “Ms. Pompeo has been emailing the senior advisor’s official email account almost every day since the senior advisor began hiring, asking her to take on various roles.”

According to the report, “Porter spent more than three months preparing for a June 2019 visit to the Kansas Chapter of the YPO (formerly the Young Presidents’ Organization) in Washington, DC, of ​​which the secretary was a member.”

When asked for Porter’s help, Susan Pompeo emphasized “the prior political support of several Members for Secretary Pompeo’s campaigns for the House of Representatives, but made no reference to any link between the visit and departmental business,” the report said.

For example, Ms. Pompeo’s list said that one attendee was one of Mike’s biggest supporters during his congressional years, hosting Pompeo’s largest fundraiser for Kansas, while another attendee sat at Pompeo for the Kansas Finance Council. ‘”

Porter “arranged events for those traveling, including organizing tours of various museums and visiting the Library of Congress and the US Capitol.”

The State Department did not pay for the tours or other events organized for the outside organizations that the Pompeos were affiliated with, investigators found. However, they argue that this is just further evidence that the events were personal and should not have been dealt with with State Department staff.

Their report also makes reference to provisions in federal regulations, such as the Standards for Ethical Conduct by Executive Employees, which state: “An employee may not use his public office for his own private gain to promote a product. Service or business, or for the private benefit of friends, relatives, or persons with whom the worker is affiliated in a non-governmental capacity, including non-profit organizations of which the officer is or is a member of the worker, and persons with whom the worker has, or seeks, or employment Business relationships. “

Pompeo’s lawyer Burck defended himself vehemently. According to Burck in an official reply, the draft report “is, in short, a politicized document in the form of an investigative document”, which blows up small tasks disproportionately.

The lawyer claims that Pompeo’s engineering of the fall of Linick, the inspector general of the State Department, motivated investigators. Investigators deny these and other allegations against her, noting that the investigation began long before Linick was released.

Burck noted that it was Susan Pompeo who often made the inquiries, not the secretary herself. “We had thought long gone when everyone viewed women as mere extensions of their husbands, but that antiquated and insulting view enlivens the entire draft report, “he wrote.

At least 30 times, Mike or Susan Pompeo hired State Department officials to “make restaurant reservations for personal lunches and dinners with family or friends of Pompeo,” the report said.

Staff told investigators that they viewed such tasks as departmental business as diplomatic security officers would have to do preliminary work to secure the sites. A staff member said he had similar reservations about other state secretaries. According to the report, the department clarifies the rules for such inquiries.

One unusual case involved Pompeus’ son, Nick. In September 2019, the Pompeos and then Secretary of State for Management Brian Bulatao, a longtime friend of Mike Pompeo, planned to attend a soccer game at the US Military Academy in West Point. Bulatao and Mike Pompeo are West Point graduates. Nick Pompeo was supposed to join them, but since he wasn’t an official guest of the military academy, he should pay his own way.

Investigators said they found evidence that “Bulatao was trying to get a price cut” for Nick Pompeo and that a hotel room booked for him uses a “temporary duty rate reserved for federal employees for official business,” it said the report, adding, “The Pompeos’ son was not a federal employee.”

The report did not address issues related to the Madison DinnersA series of meetings held by the Pompeos, which led to allegations that the two were trying to strengthen their political rolodexes under the guise of diplomatic work. A person familiar with the problem said investigators looked into the Madison Dinners issue but found the couple had not broken any rules that govern such matters.

The report also did not address issues related to the placement of Pompeus in a military complex. It was not immediately clear whether this issue would be investigated.

One case where the Inspector General’s Office determined the need for more clarity involved the Pompeos, who used State Department funds to purchase gifts (such as gold nut shells) for the hosts of dinners that turned up in person rather than with diplomatic work too had to do. Investigators recommended that the department officially decide whether such gifts can be paid for with taxpayers’ money.

The Pompeos asked diplomatic security officers at least three times to do some personal tasks for them, but for the most part they did not turn to this group for such requests, investigators found.

In his interview, Pompeo repeatedly minimized the requests, according to the report, arguing that they were just small tasks that did not require such intensive scrutiny.

With Mike Pompeo no longer a federal employee and his wife wasn’t, there is little the State Department can do to punish the couple for the alleged rule violations. Part of the reason the report went on for so long is that Mike Pompeo consistently refused to commit to an interview until he finally agreed on an interview in late December, less than a month before he left office .

However, the Inspector General’s Office recommended various departments of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, such as the Legal Adviser’s Office, to update or draft new guidelines specifying or further specifying the appropriate use of departmental resources and staff for personal tasks.

The State Department, now headed by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, sent a brief reply to the Inspector General’s office accepting these recommendations.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman, asked for comment on Friday, said: “The Ministry appreciates the work of the Inspector General and, as the report states, agrees with and will continue to implement all recommendations.”

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