Menu

Politics

State Department

State Department splurged on booze before partial shutdown

haywards_082813.jpg

Aug. 28, 2013: A bartender pours beer at a restaurant in Mumbai.Reuters

While the federal government was squeezed on one side by sequester and the other by a looming partial shutdown, the State Department was spending heavily on booze for its embassies abroad. 

The Washington Times reports that the department spent about $180,000 on alcohol in September and $400,000 in all of 2012 -- that's three times the $118,000 spent in 2008. 

The booze tab reportedly has risen every year since 2008, but the end of fiscal 2012 saw a particular spike. Part of the reason could be that, toward the end of the year, federal agencies often try to spend what's left in their budgets in order to reduce the risk that Congress will target them for cuts. 

Records for U.S. embassies show that alcohol spending went up at American posts around the world. The purchases included nearly $16,000 for bourbon and whiskey in Moscow, and more than $22,000 for wine in Tokyo. 

Some of the purchases were listed as "gratuity" items, meaning they were likely gifts. The State Department noted that the U.S. is trying to "make the best impression" with foreign governments and groups. 

But, in a statement to the Times, the department also said "it would be an oversimplification" to only look at these purchases and "draw a conclusion about the department's operational priorities at the time."