Diplomacy Under the Influence? US Embassies' Booze Bill Up 350% Since 2008

Government spending is being cut in many areas since sequestration kicked in but spending on liquor by US embassies has grown substantially during President Obama’s tenure.

The Washington Times reports that the State Department’s liquor bill was over $400,000 last fiscal year, with $180,000 of that spent just before the government shutdown in October. That’s roughly triple what embassies spent on booze in 2008.

In 2008 the annual total was $118,000. The FY 2012 total was $415,000, a 350 percent jump. The Times offered a few specific examples of State’s booze tab:

  • $5,625 in “gratuity wine” at the embassy in Rio de Janeiro on Sept. 29, followed by $5,925 in “gratuity whiskey” on the day the shutdown began.
  • $22,416 in wine at the embassy in Tokyo.
  • $15,900 in bourbon and whiskey in Moscow.

Of course this is a pittance in the overall scope of the budget. The Times quotes the president of a taxpayer protection group saying as much. There’s really not much savings to be had here. But, symbolically at least, it does look bad. Spending on non-essentials ought to be one of the first things to go.