US

‘Over 100 Requests to Employees’: State Dept. Watchdog Declares Pompeo, Wife Violated Ethics Rules

Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raised eyebrows last year after admitting that he requested then-President Donald Trump to remove State Department Inspector General Steve Linick from his post. At the time of his termination, Linick was conducting an investigation into personal errand requests from Pompeo and his wife, Susan Pompeo.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the US Department of State issued a report Friday detailing that it found that both Pompeo and his wife made several requests of departmental employees that “were inconsistent with Department ethics rules and the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch.” 

The accompanying review – based on a 2019 whistleblower complaint alleging Pompeo’s misuse of State Department resources – revealed Pompeo “hired a political appointee” for the purpose of carrying out “tasks of personal nature to benefit him and Mrs. Pompeo.”  

The aforementioned appointee, as well as State Department staffers, were made to carry out a number of tasks, which the report divided into three broad categories: “requests to pick up personal items, planning of events unrelated to the Department’s mission, and miscellaneous personal requests.” 

One example highlighted within the OIG report detailed that, in December 2019, Mrs. Pompeo emailed a senior adviser and asked, “I’m wondering if we are sending the last of our personal [Christmas] cards out, who will be there to help me?” 

Both the senior adviser and a senior foreign service adviser spent time that weekend enveloping, addressing and mailing the Pompeos’ personal Christmas cards.  

When asked about the incident, Pompeo told the OIG that he thought the request was “proper because it was only a ‘tiny task.'” Also, he reimbursed the State Department for printing costs, according to the report. 

Another section of the report stated that, on several occasions in 2018 and 2019, Pompeo and his wife asked the senior adviser to provide care for their dog. The requests included: “picking the dog up from their home and dropping it off with a boarder; picking it up from the boarder and returning it to their home; and stopping by their home to let the dog out when they were not at home.”

The OIG determined the tasks had no connection to official State Department business, despite being performed by department personnel “during duty and non-duty hours. The Pompeos did not reimburse the subordinate employees for their non-duty time when performing these tasks.” 

The OIG advised the State Department to update its guidance regarding the use of departmental funds for personal entertainment, dinners and gifts to US citizens. It also called for the addition of examples of both appropriate and inappropriate requests in the Protection Handbook. 

The third recommendation called for the publication of “guidance on the use of a subordinate’s time for tasks of a personal nature, including direction concerning what to do and who to contact when a Department employee is tasked with an inappropriate request.”

“The Department concurred with all three recommendations,” the report detailed. 

William Burck, Pompeo’s lawyer, issued a scathing response to the OIG draft report, claiming in a now-public letter that the report “in its current form is not fit for publication.” 

“The poor quality of the report bespeaks not merely unprofessionalism in its drafting but also bias, which we are concerned may be politically motivated,” he wrote, on behalf of his client. “It is no secret that some staff in the OIG strongly disagreed with personnel decisions made during Mr. Pompeo’s tenure, including the termination of former State Department Inspector General Steve Linick.” 

The attorney also requested access to the information regarding “these supposed ‘over 100 requests.'” According to Pompeo’s lawyer, the report did not properly emphasize that “there is no allegation that the Pompeos improperly used State Department funds at any time” because the drafters conceded “the Pompeos paid for personal items themselves.”  

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