Pompeo's breaking his own ethics rule to give convention speech in Jerusalem


Just a few weeks ago, Pompeo sent a memo to staff saying diplomats are not allowed to engage in partisan political activity. Tonight, he's speaking as part of the Republican National Convention.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to speak at the Republican National Convention Tuesday night, a move that not only breaks the tradition of keeping the nation's top diplomat out of political matters, but also violates an ethics law Pompeo himself reminded State Department employees they must follow.

No secretary of state has ever given an address at a party convention. And Pompeo is pushing the boundary even further, as he's giving is address from Jerusalem, where he's on a taxpayer funded diplomatic visit.

Pompeo's shattering of norms and ethics rules comes just a few weeks after he himself sent a memo to State Department employees reminding them that they cannot violate the Hatch Act.

"The Department works to advance the national interest abroad on behalf of all Americans in a non-partisan fashion. It is important to remember that in order to avoid any confusion or misperception in this regard, the longstanding policy is that U.S. citizen employees and family members may not engage in partisan political activity while posted or on TDY abroad, even on personal time," Pompeo wrote in a July 29 memo.

Even more, just ahead of the primary season in December 2019, the State Department's Office of the Legal Adviser sent a memo saying that "Senate-confirmed presidential appointees may not even attend a political party convention or convention-related event." Pompeo, a Senate-confirmed presidential appointee, is obviously violating that with his Republican convention speech.

This is not the first time Pompeo is violating ethics rules.

The State Department inspector general was investigating Pompeo for hosting lavish taxpayer-funded dinners not for diplomats — which would fall under the purview of his job — but for Republican media personalities and GOP political insiders who could help Pompeo in his political career. Pompeo later pushed for the inspector general who was investigating him to be fired.

Democrats are slamming Pompeo for his speaking role at the Republican convention.

"Pompeo's decision to address the Republican convention from Jerusalem isn't just an abuse of taxpayer dollars, it undermines the critical work being done by the State Department," Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's campaign said in a statement, adding that Pompeo's "repeated and blatant use of his office for overtly political purposes only serves to undercut [the State Department's] work."

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), a member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, also condemned Pompeo's planned speech, saying it's part of a "disturbing trend by Republicans to politicize the issue of Israel and try to weaponize the U.S.-Israel relationship for political gain." Trump and Republicans have touted the decision to move the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, an effort to keep evangelical Christian voters in their column.

"Secretary Pompeo is making a mockery of a sacred American office by choosing to speak at the Republican convention as a sitting secretary of state," Murphy said in a statement. "He exacerbates this disgrace by using a taxpayer-financed foreign trip to pull off this stunt. This is a violation of both the Hatch Act and the State Department’s policy against Senate-confirmed appointees appearing at partisan political events."

But Pompeo is not the only person breaching ethics rules and traditions at the GOP convention.

Trump himself is speaking at the White House — a taxpayer-funded landmark that past presidents have made a concerted effort to avoid giving political speeches at.

Ethics experts say that while Trump is not governed by the Hatch Act, any White House aides who attend will be in violation of the law.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.