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Whistleblower complaint emerges showing internal concern over Pompeo courting Kansas

Michael Wilner and Bryan Lowry, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON — State Department employees were asked to prepare then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for political events in Kansas as he was flirting with a run for a U.S. Senate seat there in 2019, rankling government staff who saw the requests as ethics violations, according to a previously unreported whistleblower complaint and emails obtained by McClatchy.

The documents provide fresh insight into Pompeo politicking behind the scenes during a period when the secretary was engaged in a flurry of hushed donor meetings and controversial visits to Kansas.

Newly obtained emails from that period show the former secretary’s wife, Susan Pompeo, asking State Department staff for help organizing political events in their adopted home state, connecting with local companies and drawing a crowd to one of his events.

And a whistleblower complained to the State Department inspector general’s hotline in October 2019 that department staff were asked to prepare Pompeo for an event with BG Products, a Wichita automotive services and parts company. Aides produced talking points on Kansas’ oil drilling and production industry that had little to do with the business of state, according to the complaint.

Multiple State Department staff were tasked with the requests, the whistleblower said, claiming the activity posed a “conflict of interest” and amounted to “ethics violations.”

“The questions in the tasker seemed strange to me,” the whistleblower wrote. “They did not seem like questions a State Department official would write.”

 

A representative for Pompeo did not immediately respond Tuesday to a question about the newly disclosed complaint.

The questions were for Pompeo’s appearance at a company convention in Washington and was shortly before Pompeo made a trip to Wichita with Ivanka Trump that same month.

“As we continue to seek economic prosperity for Americans, I appreciate every opportunity I have to meet with members of our thriving and innovative business community. Thanks to the International BG Distributor Convention for having me today,” Pompeo said on Twitter at the time.

A representative for BG Products did not respond to questions about the nature of the event or how Pompeo’s appearance was arranged.

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