Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spent more than $10,000 in taxpayer funds on engraved Madison Dinner-branded pens that he gifted to attendees of the notorious dinner parties, according to records obtained by CREW in an ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The guests included high-profile Republican donors, who could be politically useful if Pompeo runs for office in the future. This new disclosure brings the total amount of taxpayer funds spent on the dinners to at least $50,000, several thousand more than previously reported.
The new records reveal that the pens, which were custom-embossed with Madison Dinner logos, cost the Department at least $10,433 for a total of 400 pens.
The records also show that the pens were engraved in and shipped from China. As Secretary of State, Pompeo was a vocal critic of “Chinese trade abuses that cost American jobs and strike enormous blows to the economies all across America.”
One employee from the Department’s Office of the Chief of Protocol spent an inordinate amount of time procuring the pens, sending more than a dozen emails to the vendor over the span of several weeks in July and August 2018. The emails show the employee–whose name the agency redacted for “personal privacy” reasons–corresponding with a sense of urgency.
“When is the soonest you could get the sample to us by?” the employee wrote in one email. “Would it expedite things to send one of the pens we already have to have ‘Madison Dinners’ added to the barrel, as opposed to having a whole new pen made?”
The employee was particularly concerned about one specialty pen that was rush ordered, writing, “Any word on the one rush pen? Are we going to be able to have it in hand by tomorrow?”
When the employee asked whether the pen was being shipped directly to DC, the vendor wrote, “Completed decorated product(s) ship from China to [an] airport hub in Chicago…We are unable to ship from China facility directly to customer due to customs issues, etc.”
Several proofs of the pen were deemed unsatisfactory, prompting multiple rounds of revisions to address minor details such as the prominence of the Madison Dinners logo and the size of a medallion, among other things.
Pompeo reportedly gifted the taxpayer-funded pens as a keepsake to Madison Dinner guests, who included high-profile Republican political donors. According to NBC News, State Department officials involved in the dinners “had raised concerns internally that the events were essentially using federal resources to cultivate a donor and supporter base for Pompeo’s political ambitions.”
In addition to the Madison Dinners, prior reporting shows that Mike and Susan Pompeo repeatedly used employees in the Office of the Chief of Protocol to perform personal tasks, such as “helping design, facilitate the production of and handle the invoices for the Pompeos’ personal Christmas card.” Former State Department Inspector General Steve Linick was reportedly investigating the Pompeos’ potential misuse of taxpayer resources when he was fired by President Trump in May 2020 at former Secretary Pompeo’s behest.
This $10,000 bill to taxpayers is just one piece of what appears to be a larger pattern of the Pompeos abusing government resources for personal gain. If pens alone cost $10,000, the dinners themselves may well be significantly more expensive than shown in the receipts the State Department has so far turned over to CREW.