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Dog sitting, dry cleaning and food runs: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife criticized for 'inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars' in new report

Business Insider logo Business Insider 7/23/2020 insider@insider.com (Jake Lahut)
a couple of people that are talking to each other: President Donald Trump congratulates Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and wife Susan during a ceremonial swearing in at the State Department on May 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson/Getty Images © Mark Wilson/Getty Images President Donald Trump congratulates Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and wife Susan during a ceremonial swearing in at the State Department on May 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson/Getty Images
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's reported desire to have the State Department's inspector general fired has raised questions over potential ethics violations and abuse of power, but little has been known about the involvement of his wife, who is not a federal employee.
  • An investigation published in Politico Magazine sheds new light on the role of Susan Pompeo involvement in alleged ethics violations and a bizarre workplace culture.
  • Following her domineering presence in Pompeo's congressional office and even when he was running the CIA — scoring herself an office and an assistant in Langley, Va. — Susan has reportedly been micromanaging State Department staffers.
  • From making them fetch dry cleaning and taking care of the family dog to meticulously organizing dinners where taxpayer money was used for no apparent reason other than to benefit her husband's political prospects, Mrs. Pompeo has taken an unprecedented role in the State Department, according to Politico.
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If it weren't for the coronavirus, nationwide economic distress and President Donald Trump's penchant for constantly inserting himself into anything in the news, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's alleged ethics violations would be a more widely discussed story. 

While Pompeo's request for Trump to fire the State Department's watchdog has made headlines, the involvement of Pompeo's wife, Susan, has been largely unknown.

A Politico Magazine report published Thursday, citing interviews with State Department officials and former employees of Pompeo in his previous roles, paints a picture of a micromanaging spouse who used federal employees for personal errands and organized dinners to advance the career of her husband on the taxpayer dime. 

Susan's involvement in her husband's public service for personal gain was so egregious that the CIA — where she managed to score herself an office and even a de facto assistant at the headquarters in Langley, Va. — had officials contact counterparts at the State Department to prepare "a legal memo governing Susan Pompeo's role before she arrived in Foggy Bottom," according to Politico.

Mike Pompeo denied he and his wife misused staff and taxpayer funds, going so far as to accuse Politico in a lengthy statement of "trafficking in outmoded, frankly sexist views."

Some notable incidents involving Susan Pompeo over the years include:

  • A Pompeo congressional aide questioned the ethics of using taxpayer money to pay for shipping on a box that had personal items in it. Susan responded in an email by saying:
    • "The 'ethics'???????! That's funny because I'm trying to get thru the professionalism, efficiency and morale standards in place that when we are in receipt of an email marked 'URGENT' informing that the Congressman we are all supposed to be unencumbering from tasks so he can better serve America is DIGGING THRU TRASH doesn't deign more than a 'when we get around to it' response."
  • One of her major efforts at the State Department, according to Politico, has been in organizing the "so-called "Madison Dinners"— intimate, meticulously planned gatherings of influential Washington figures and wealthy potential donors that have been criticized as an inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars. Her activities have made some State Department employees uncomfortable; others have welcomed her involvement."
  • During her husband's time running the CIA early in the Trump administration, Susan helped plan his external advisory board events, briefings and played a "hands-on" role in his overseas trips.
  • During the 2016 campaign for Pompeo's House seat, an aide was assigned to dogsit back in Kansas on unpaid time.
  • Another aide was told to put the newspapers inside of the Pompeos' Wichita home while they were out of town.
    • "This was asked of me as his scheduler, not as a friend or as a favor," the staffer told Politico. "I did not feel like I had the freedom to decline as it was couched to me as a requirement of the job."
  • Susan organized a Sept. 27 dinner during the UN General Assembly in 2019 ostensibly for foreign officials from the Pacific Islands, but included spouses of officials from Egypt, Algeria and Azerbaijan. Food for that event cost taxpayers at least $1,028.28.
  • In 2014, Susan had staffers redo plans for new decor in Pompeo's DC House office, taking inspiration from disgraced former Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock's "Downton Abbey" themed office (Schock ended up resigning after being exposed for improperly spending taxpayer money). Susan even sent an aide to snap photos of Schock's ostentatious office.
  • A House staffer had to wait for Susan to finish having her hair done on a Sunday, part of a broader pattern of employees fetching dry cleaning and running other errands. Diplomatic Security agents were treated like "Uber Eats with guns," according to a July 2019 CNN report.
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