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Taxpayers foot State Department's stiff liquor bill

By Jim McElhatton, The Washington Times

Months after President Obama urged federal agencies last year to cut wasteful spending, the U.S. Department of State paid $3,814 to fill an order of Jack Daniel’s whiskey for gratuities at one of its many overseas embassies.

The booze buy wasn’t unusual.

Last year alone, the State Department sent taxpayers tabs totaling nearly $300,000 for alcoholic beverages — about twice as much compared to the previous year, according to an analysis of spending records by The Washington Times.

The purchases, small and large, included $2,483 to pay for “assorted spirits for gratuities to vendors” at the U.S. mission to the United Nations in New York, and $9,501 in “Christmas gratuities” of whiskey and wine at the U.S. Embassy in South Korea.

Taxpayer watchdogs say while accounting for a small fraction of the State Department’s overall budget, some of the liquor expenditures reflect larger concerns about stewardship of federal tax dollars at a time when many recession-weary Americans find themselves struggling to hold onto jobs and pay mortgages.

“It’s indicative of the disconnect that bureaucrats have when they spend our money,” said David Williams, vice president of policy at the nonpartisan Citizens Against Government Waste.

State Department spokesman Noel Clay said such expenditures are permitted under law.

“As part of the department’s work in representing the United States and its interests here and abroad, U.S. officials may hold receptions and representational events,” he said.

“By law, the secretary of state may provide for such receptions and may pay entertainment and representational expenses to enable the Department of State and foreign service to provide for the proper representation of the United States and its interests,” he said.

Mr. Clay also added, “Alcohol is not served at all representational events or official receptions.”

To read more, visit: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/apr/15/taxpayers-foot-state-departments-stiff-liquor-bill/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter_must-read-stories-today

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