Newly obtained documents show the full extent to which former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife were willing to go to advance their own political and business interests on the taxpayer dime.
While previous reporting has shown that the Madison Dinners hosted by the couple—lavish dinner parties attended by a mix of celebrities, political operatives, government officials and public figures, planned with the help of State Department staff—had little to do with State Department business, the new records reveal the Pompeos repeatedly jumped at the opportunity to abuse taxpayer funds for their own gain.
“We are already seeing connections and relationships form that wouldn’t have, but for these dinners,” Susan Pompeo wrote to State Department staff following a successful dinner in 2018.
Invitees were meticulously broken down into four sections: media, foreign diplomat, government and private sector. Susan Pompeo would provide specific guidelines to staff creating the guest lists: “In the government category—having two couples is good. In the private sector, two or three couples.” It appears that for each dinner, the Pompeos only invited one diplomatic guest.
A previously unreported guest list for a February 2020 dinner included Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, Representative Elise Stefanik, the Vice President of Amazon Web Services, an MSNBC commentator and the Ambassador to the Republic of Korea. Another dinner hoped to bring together the founder of Snapchat, country singers Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and the Commander of US Special Forces.
These guest lists themselves make clear that the dinners were not meant for official business. But more correspondence shows that the Pompeos actually went out of their way to avoid government business: “Mike is pretty adamant that he does NOT want two government people sitting next to each other,” wrote Susan Pompeo. “So, for instance, there is one diagram that has Linda McMahon sitting next to Mike—two cabinet members that see each other all the time. Precisely what Mike would not want to do.”
Even when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Susan Pompeo saw opportunity. “Mike wants to be sure we DO NOT extend invitations to anyone for any future Madison Dinners (including the two in April),” she wrote to staff in a previously unreported email. But all hope was not lost: “This event calendar draw down represents great opportunities for us to think and plan our very best business ideas for future launch. Yippee!”
While we’ve come to accept that the Pompeos’ Madison Dinners were nothing more than taxpayer funded networking events, these previously unreported emails show just how unabashedly the Pompeos abused government resources, even when confronted with a global pandemic. While the world waits to see what Mike Pompeo’s next move is, it is clear he spent his time in the administration—and taxpayer dollars—preparing for it.