The State Department is looking into the whereabouts of a $5,800 bottle of Japanese whiskey that was gifted to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to State Department filings in the federal register.
The government of Japan gifted the whiskey to Pompeo in 2019, the document says. But it is unclear if Pompeo himself received the whiskey or if a staffer accepted it.
Pompeo’s lawyer, William Burck, told the Wall Street Journal that the former secretary of state had “no recollection of receiving the bottle of whiskey and does not have any knowledge of what happened to it.”
CNN has requested comment from both Pompeo’s spokesperson and a spokesperson for the State Department.
“The Department is looking into the matter and has an ongoing inquiry,” the filing says.
The missing gift could raise ethics concerns for Pompeo, who has given strong indications he may be a candidate for president in 2024.
American officials are prohibited from accepting personal gifts from foreign governments. But “non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and U.S. Government,” the State Department says in the filing, so the gifts are turned over to government archives.
US officials are legally allowed to keep gifts that cost less than $390. If there are gifts over that price, the officials are legally bound to pay for appraised cost.
The expensive whiskey was included among a gift list prepared by the State Department’s Office of Protocol, which itemizes all presents to top administration officials.
The State Department’s independent watchdog earlier this year found that Pompeo and his wife Susan Pompeo violated federal ethics rules by making over 100 personal, non-work related requests to department employees — from ordering gifts to booking salon appointments and taking care of the family dog.
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