Mike Pompeo offered custom China-made pens as mementos | Daily News

Mike Pompeo offered custom China-made pens as mementos

Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, signing an agreement on an August 2020 visit to Slovenia.
Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, signing an agreement on an August 2020 visit to Slovenia.

US: Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a vociferous critic of Beijing, offered memento pens that were made in China at dinners where he controversially entertained conservative guests, a watchdog said Thursday.

The group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington released records it obtained under US freedom of information laws that found that Pompeo's State Department spent at least $10,433 for 400 custom pens.

The pens were embossed with the "Madison Dinner" logo, referring to gatherings Pompeo held at taxpayers' expense in which he invited prominent Republicans -- many of whom could be useful if he pursues a presidential run, as is widely speculated.

In correspondence released by the group, a company representative explains to a State Department employee that the decorated pens "ship from China to airport hub in Chicago" and that "we are unable to ship from China facility directly to customer due to customs issues, etc." Pompeo considers his hard line on Beijing a key legacy, tweeting Thursday that the United States "must remain tough on China" after President Joe Biden's first call with his counterpart Xi Jinping. In a speech last year, Pompeo criticized previous administrations' economic and diplomatic engagement of Beijing, warning that China's trade policies "cost American jobs and strike enormous blows to the economies all across America."

The Madison Dinners, named after the US founding father and secretary of state, drew scrutiny as critics said Pompeo was making use of taxpayer resources to further his career.

Pompeo's representatives did not immediately offer comment on the findings. - AFP