U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has secretly been using government trips around the world and at home to court wealthy potential donors, both as he considered a run for the Senate last year and early this year, and as he lays the groundwork for a run for the White House in 2024.
During trips paid for by U.S. taxpayers including travel via federal government planes the Secretary of State has been meeting with prominent Republican donors who can greatly help him on the road to the White House.
From London to Latin America, and from Florida to Kansas, the Secretary has been holding secret meetings that are quietly kept off his official calendar, The New York Times reports.
One such meeting took place with Charles Koch, the billionaire who was once half of the infamous Koch Brothers team who hijacked the nascent Tea Party and – intentionally or not – turned it into a racist money-grubbing machine. That meeting, as the Times notes, took place "while on an official visit to Kansas. That trip was made aboard a government aircraft."
Pompeo "has chosen not to disclose certain meetings that appeared to be linked to those plans while on taxpayer-funded trips. The exact number of the meetings is unclear, though there is a pattern of activity."
Critics are outraged.
“It’s becoming increasingly clear that Secretary Pompeo is using the State Department to support his political career, and is using the position of secretary of state to collect a Rolodex of powerful people to support him for whatever venture he sees next,” Austin Evers, executive director of the liberal watchdog group American Oversight, told The Times. Evers worked at the State Department during the Obama administration.
Pompeo is now the subject of several scandals and investigations that exploded since he asked President Donald Trump to fire the State Dept. Inspector General (Steve Linick was fired late Friday night.)
NBC News reported earlier this week on Pompeo's secret – and also off-calendar – "Madison Dinners," about two dozen cocktail and dinner evenings at the State Dept. complete with harpists, photos by the fire, museum tours, and parting gifts. Pompeo and his wife hosted the evenings for hundreds of invited guests, far more wealthy potential donors than diplomats. Taxpayers picked up the tab and Mrs. Pompeo picked up and kept all the details of their wealthy guests.
Before he was fired the Inspector General reportedly was looking into misuse of federal assets, including using a federal government employee to walk his dog, pick up his dry cleaning, and make dinner reservations.
Another investigation involves possibly illegal arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
It's unclear if any of those investigations will be completed while Trump remains president.
This article has been updated.