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Report: Congressional Committees Looking Into Pompeo Dinners

NBC: Taxpayer-funded 'Madison Dinners' hosted by Pompeo are now under scrutiny
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 20, 2020 9:50 AM CDT

(Newser) – The State Department inspector general who was abruptly fired on Friday may have been aware of fancy dinners hosted by Mike Pompeo and his wife on the taxpayer's dime. That’s according to NBC News, which reports Steve Linick last week made "some type of inquiry" to the Office of the Chief of Protocol, which runs the so-called Madison Dinners. Linick was investigating whether the secretary of state made improper requests of one of his staffers, Toni Porter, who worked as chief liaison with the protocol office, per NBC. The Madison Dinners are named after James Madison, the former president and secretary of state who often hosted foreign diplomats for dinner at his own expense. But these dinners are funded by and held at the State Department, and only 14% of 500 or so invited guests have been diplomats or foreign officials.

The rest mainly hail from government, the corporate world, and media and entertainment, per NBC, which reports several congressional committees are investigating the dinners, two dozen of which have been held since Pompeo took office in 2018. Sen. Bob Menendez of the Foreign Relations Committee demanded "a complete accounting" of funds used, along with copies of all remarks Pompeo made at these dinners, in a Tuesday letter to the State Department, citing allegations of "large domestic-focused political gatherings that serve little-to-no foreign policy purpose." But a department rep says the "foreign policy-focused social gatherings" are "an important component of the execution of his duties" and a learning opportunity that Pompeo "looks forward to continuing." He was set to hold his first on-camera press briefing since Linick's firing on Wednesday at 10:30am ET, per CNBC. (Read more Mike Pompeo stories.)

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