Pompeo violated ethics rules by asking State Dept employees to do personal tasks -watchdog

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo delivers remarks at National Press Club

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated federal ethics rules governing the use of taxpayer-funded resources when he, and his wife, asked State Department employees to carry out personal tasks more than 100 times, a government watchdog said in a report on Friday.

Pompeo, who was former President Donald Trump’s last secretary of state, served until Jan. 20, when Republican Trump left the office after being defeated by Democrat Joe Biden in the November election.

Pompeo is seen as among a handful of Republicans with presidential ambitions for 2024, even though the former top diplomat has not confirmed that.

Pompeo and his wife asked a political appointee and other employees in his office to carry out tasks such as “picking up personal items, planning events unrelated to the Department’s mission, and conducting such personal business as pet care and mailing personal Christmas cards,” the State Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) said in the report.

“The Pompeos made over 100 requests to employees in the office of the secretary to conduct work that appeared to be personal in nature,” the report, which can be found here https://www.stateoig.gov/system/files/esp_21-02_-_review_of_allegations_of_misuse_of_department_of_state_resources.pdf, said.

Among the incidents detailed in the report were a request from Susan Pompeo for an aide to make two hair salon appointments for her. On another occasion, an under secretary of state appeared to help the Pompeos’ son secure a discount for a hotel room, the report said.

Pompeo slammed the report, saying it was politically motivated and filled with factual errors.

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“At no time did I, or my wife Susan, misuse taxpayer money or violate rules or ethical norms,” Pompeo said in a statement. “Our actions were constantly reviewed by dozens of lawyers, and we made massive efforts, and did, comply with every requirement,” he said.

Pompeo during his tenure had a contentious relationship with the Department’s watchdog. A former inspector general, Steve Linick, was fired by Trump at Pompeo’s recommendation.

Linick was probing whether Pompeo misused a taxpayer-funded political appointee to perform personal tasks for himself and his wife.

OIG said it had completed most of its fieldwork on the report by August 2020. Its completion of the report was delayed because Pompeo refused to grant an interview to the OIG for several months until sitting down with them in December.

A State Department spokesman said the agency concurred with “all the recommendations (in the report) and will proceed to implement them.”

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