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Press Release Published: Nov 2, 2012

Record State Dinner Spending at Obama White House [VIDEO]

Oversight Committee Presses Clinton for Answers and Related Documents

WASHINGTON – The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today released a video – “Spend Like He Says, Not Like He Does” – highlighting reported record Obama Administration State Dinner spending, including a May 19, 2012 White House event that cost taxpayers more than the infamous four-day GSA Las Vegas conference previously investigated by the committee.  Yesterday, Chairman Darrell Issa sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a letter requesting all planning documents, receipts, contracts and communications related to state dinners since January 2009.  The State Department has failed to respond to an April 2012 committee request for information related to overnight conferences attended by its employees.

“During these tough economic times, Americans are reining in their spending wherever possible.  The Executive Branch should be mindful of this.  Reports of excessively lavish events, however, indicate the opposite,” said Chairman Issa in the letter to Secretary Clinton.  “For a May 2012 state dinner honoring Felipe Calderon, the President of Mexico, the White House hired Beyonce and celebrity chef Rick Bayless.  The event cost nearly one million dollars.”

On October 25, 2012, the Washington Examiner reported that the Mexico dinner cost taxpayers more than $4,700 per attendee for a total of $969,793.  The sum dwarfs both the $840,616 spent by GSA on its October 2010 Vegas conference and the estimated $200,000 spent on each state dinner by previous administrations, according to Examiner.  While there are no reports of GSA-style clowns or homemade rap videos at the Obama Administration’s state dinners, according to documents obtained by the Examiner:

“The Calderon dinner was held on the South Lawn in a massive tent adorned with decorated walls, hanging chandeliers, carpeting and a stage for Beyonce’s performance.  Guests rode private trolley cars from the White House to the tent.  Celebrity guest chef Rich Bayless from Chicago’s Topolobampo restaurant was imported to prepare Oaxacan black mole, black bean tamalon and grilled green beans.”
“Reports of excessive costs for the May 2012 dinner create the appearance that the White House and State Department are not planning and executing state dinners responsibly,” continued Issa in the letter to Clinton.  “The Committee is charged with investigating allegations of waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in the federal government.  To assist the Committee in the investigation of this matter, please provide the following documents and information:
1. “Documents, including, but not limited to, guidelines and memoranda, relating to the planning, organization, and execution of a state dinner.


2. “An itemized list of costs and expenses for each of the last six state dinners, including, but not limited to, amounts paid, including reimbursements, for non-government event planners, entertainers, and chefs.  Please include a copy of all contracts or agreements entered into with all non-government event planners, entertainers, chefs, and other non-government contractors.

3. “All documents and communications between and among staff of the White House and the Department relating to the planning and execution of state dinners since January 1, 2009.”

A November 2009 White House state dinner honoring the Prime Minister of India cost taxpayers nearly $500,000, according to the Examiner.

Related Documents
Name Document
November 1, 2012 Letter to State Dept. Secretary Clinton on Record State Dinner Spending Document
VIDEO: President Obama's State Dinner Spending Spree Document
May 10, 2012 Letter to State Dept. on GSA-Style Conference Spending Document
May 5, 2012 Oversight Release on GSA Las Vegas Conference with Clowns & Rap Videos Document