Throughout his time as Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo and his wife Susan incessantly requested assistance on non-governmental matters from staffers at the State Department, as outlined in a new report from the department’s inspector general. According to this oversight office, there were over 100 requests from the Pompeos regarding personal matters, and these requests, investigators add, were in violation of federal rules regarding ethics for officials in power.
The Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch insist that “an employee shall not use his public office for his own private gain, for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise, or for the private gain of friends, relatives, or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity” — but this scenario is exactly what seems to have unfolded. Susan, for instance, “asked staff members to buy a T-shirt for a friend; arrange for flowers to be sent to friends recovering from sickness,” and more, as summarized by a POLITICO report. For some time, Susan got in touch with one senior adviser to Mike with requests on “an almost daily basis,” according to investigators.
Investigators discovered requests from the Pompeos to federal officials that ranged “from booking salon appointments and private dinner reservations to picking up their dog and arranging tours for the Pompeos’ political allies,” as explained by POLITICO. Picking up the Secretary of State’s dog is not part of the ordinary job description for foreign service officials! These asks from the Pompeos for assistance clearly overstepped reasonable boundaries meant to protect taxpayer resources from getting used for personal benefit.
According to investigators, employees who got the requests from Susan Pompeo understood her entreaties to have the support of Mike Pompeo himself. As summarized by POLITICO, when Mike finally agreed to an interview as part of the investigation last December, he “insisted that the requests were often small and the types of things friends do for friends,” which is just laughable. Was he seriously trying to depict the United States Secretary of State requesting personal assistance from staffers as merely the kind of thing that “friends” do with “friends”? What does he think he was leading for all that time — a social club?
The inspector general’s office at the State Department recommended official clarification on the appropriate role of department officials and resources in the completion of personal tasks, and a spokesperson for the department said on Friday that the department “concurs with all the recommendations and will proceed to implement them.”
There are, of course, other similar lingering issues from the Trump era. Throughout his time in office, Trump made money off the presidency when he visited his own properties and used government resources to fund his excursions. He also made money via political interests who patronized his properties as part of a potential attempt to curry favor with him. Democrats in Congress have proposed, among other things, the For the People Act, a wide-ranging piece of anti-corruption (and voting rights) legislation that could help protect against Trump-style corruption in the future.