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Presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway talks to White House chief of staff John Kelly at the Oct. 12 party.

Congress wants an investigation of an $8,000 party for a White House nominee

Heather Timmons
By Heather Timmons

White House correspondent

A Congressional committee wants to know why the White House billed the Department of Homeland Security thousands of taxpayer dollars for a party with corporate lobbyists.

The White House held a party in the East Room for Kirstjen Nielsen, its new nominee for secretary of the department, on October 12, and then sent the bill to the agency, as Quartz reported earlier. DHS employees, who were already surprised by Nielsen’s nomination because she’s never run a large organization, were doubly surprised, because the party included a number of lobbyists.

Now the House of Representatives committee on homeland security is asking the department’s inspector general to investigate, according to an Oct. 26 letter reviewed by Quartz. The DHS was billed $8,000 for the party, a White House advisor told Quartz.

“I find it hard to understand how a cocktail reception with corporate lobbyists benefits DHS’s mission, particularly at a time when many parts of the country, especially Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, are reeling from the effects of deadly hurricanes,” wrote Bennie G. Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat and ranking member, in the letter to John Roth, the inspector general. “It is critically important now, more than ever, to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” he wrote.

Thompson requested that Roth investigate the full charges of the party and the circumstances under which a ceremony at the White House might be billed to a federal agency. A spokesman for the White House did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

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