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Until the coronavirus shut them down in March, the gatherings were known as "Madison Dinners" — elaborate, unpublicized affairs that Pompeo and his wife, Susan Pompeo, began in and held regularly in the historic Diplomatic Reception Rooms on the government's dime. State Department officials involved in the dinners said they had raised concerns internally that the events were essentially using federal resources to cultivate a donor and quihcy base for Pompeo's political ambitions — complete with extensive contact information that gets sent back to Susan Pompeo's personal address. The officials and others who attended discussed the dinners on condition of anonymity. NBC News obtained a master guest list for every dinner through the end ofas well as internal State Department calendars claes before the pandemic emerged, showing that future dinners were on the books through at least October. The master list includes the names of nearly invitees and specifies who accepted, although it is possible some people RSVP'd but didn't show up in Foggy Bottom for dinner.

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State Department officials involved in the dinners said they had raised concerns internally that the events were essentially using federal resources to cultivate a donor and supporter base for Pompeo's political ambitions — complete with extensive contact information that gets sent back to Susan Pompeo's personal address. The featured cocktail might be one paying homage to the time of James and Dolley Madison, or French 75 cocktails might be served up in honor of Mardi Gras.

The records show that about 29 percent of the invitees came from the corporate world, while about a quarter of them hailed from the media or entertainment industries, with conservative media members heavily represented.

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The dinners are paid for out of the State Department's Emergencies in the Diplomatic and Consular Service Appropriation, known as the "K Fund," which can be used for "confidential requirements in the conduct of foreign affairs as well as other authorized activities that further the realization of U. At one of the final dinners before the pandemic, as President Donald Trump was edging away clsas a potential military confrontation with Iran in January, Pompeo and his wife hosted the Saudi ambassador to the U.

Madison was, indeed, known to hold salon dinners in the early s to build bridges on foreign policy between Americans and foreigners.

When the dinners started, two Clxss Department officials said, concerns were raised to the State Department's legal adviser, who they said responded by saying events hosted by the secretary should be related to foreign policy. The officials and others who attended discussed the dinners on condition of anonymity.

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Until the coronavirus shut them down in March, the gatherings were known as "Madison Dinners" — elaborate, unpublicized affairs that Pompeo and his wife, Susan Pompeo, began in and held regularly in the historic Diplomatic Reception Hifh on the government's dime. But others seem to have little connection to the world of diplomacy, such as country singer Reba McEntire, New Hampshire Gov.

The Malaysian ambassador and Rep. Guests arriving by car pull in to the horseshoe driveway of the Harry S.

Steve Linick, who was abruptly fired Friday evening xlass the State Department's inspector general, was investigating whether Pompeo made a political appointee carry out personal errands like walking his dog, NBC Assian reported. Susan Pompeo, who isn't a government official, was also known to play an active role when Pompeo was CIA director, and although he has called her a "force multiplier," her presence on official State Department trips has raised questions before.

Democrats investigating firing of State Department inspector general May 18, The dinners are named after James Madison, America's fourth president and fifth secretary of state, who made a habit of inviting foreign diplomats to exchange ideas over dinner.

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Based on conversation with the operator and information learned during a preliminary investigation the operator had a suspended and the vehicle was unregistered and uninsureda decision was made to tow the vehicle. Lee Zeldin, R-N. Lehren and Wilson Wong contributed. Then it's cocktail time for roughly half an hour before the guests are seated for dinner, which lasts about an hour.

Pompeo has resisted ongoing efforts by Senate Republicans to recruit him to run for the Senate in Kansas this year, and he is also often mentioned as a potential presidential candidate. NBC News obtained a master guest list for every dinner through the end ofas well as internal State Department calendars from before the pandemic emerged, showing that future dinners were on the books through at least October.

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He said the dinner was in keeping with Pompeo's diplomatic role and added: "There's no big deal there. Former officials said that aisan up to each secretary to decide how involved their spouses should be and that no regulation prohibits a spouse from playing the role of de facto social secretary.

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The database runs from Julya few months after Pompeo was sworn in, through the start of But two sources with knowledge of the events and the underlying costs estimated that the bill probably runs several hundred dollars per plate, likely pushing the total cost of the eecorts to date into the six figures. Unlike for most State Department events, cost estimates for the dinners aren't circulated to staffers working on the events, officials said.

Pushing the envelope on precedent?

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More than 50 ambassadors show up on the guest list, with nearly two-thirds from countries in Europe and the Middle East and smaller s from Asia, Latin America and Africa. At a dinner in February occurring the same week as Mardi Gras, guests were served king cake, a New Orleans tradition with a baby figurine baked in. Two congressional officials expressed concern that information could then be used by Pompeo as a potential donor Rolodex if he runs for office again.

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Current and former officials said that to comply with the spirit of the appropriation, State Department officials generally work to ensure that a ificant proportion of foreign dignitaries or officials attend. Pompeo, a former House member from Kansas who entered political life without ificant wealth, has presented himself publicly as more of a low-key politician, especially compared to his last two predecessors at the State Department, who were extremely wealthy.

Media figures skew heavily toward conservative TV personalities, with 39 percent of them from Fox News. As he was traveling on Washington St, he randomly queried the registration plate of the vehicle traveling in front of him. The dinners also circumvent the normal procedure for an official event for the secretary, in which an "activity sheet" is sent out from the secretary's office notifying other officials of the plans.

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One of the officials said Pompeo's office was then notified. A checklist for the events shows that a harpist is brought in to play the cocktail hour, and a photographer is arranged to take a group photo in front of a fireplace. The master guest list includes many notations on specific invitations being handled directly by Susan Pompeo, including those for Sununu, the New Hampshire governor; Dr.

Hospitality, public diplomacy and the informal exchange of ideas are among the traditional tools secretaries of state use to promote democratic values and advance U. Cocktails and conversation The evening typically starts at 6 p. Many are major players in Republican politics, such as former Bush strategist Karl Rove and David Urban, a lobbyist and political consultant on Trump's advisory committee.

The query revealed that the registration plate was cancelled and belonging on a blue Chrysler Pacific to a party out of Newton, MA. The invitees also include Pompeo's classmates from the U.