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High-powered guests at a controversial dinner series hosted by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were treated to custom-made gifts that cost taxpayers more than $10,000, according to documents obtained by an independent watchdog this week.
Pompeo spent a total of $10,433 on 400 engraved pens made in China, embossed with the emblem of the Madison Dinners, an event series that raised concerns within the State Department inspector general’s office over its questionable diplomatic value and political overtones.
The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a liberal-leaning government watchdog also known as CREW, obtained documents on the customized gifts through a Freedom of Information Act Request.
During his tenure as secretary of state, Pompeo emphasized a tough approach to China as an organizing principle for former President Donald Trump’s administration.
Pompeo’s last tweet on his personal Twitter account continues on this theme, asking how any American would “want taxpayer dollars to be funneled to the CCP,” referring to the Chinese Communist Party. Pompeo joined the Hudson Institute, a think tank, after leaving office.
In another recent tweet, Pompeo shared an article describing members of Congress “getting to know 2024 hopefuls early,” seemingly acknowledging long-held suspicions that the former Kansas congressman and CIA director harbors presidential ambitions.
The State Department and representatives for Pompeo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.