Just Before Shutdown, State Department Blew Nearly 200K on Booze

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2013-12_fe9538a00b.jpgRyan McVay/Thinkstock (WASHINGTON) -- As the government was readying a shutdown in part over disagreements about fiscal responsibility, the State Department apparently declared a very open bar. According to the Washington Times, the diplomatic department blew more than $180,000 on booze to re-stock its embassies and other facilities both in the U.S. and abroad before the shutdown took effect.

According to the nonprofit watchdog group the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, the last-minute spirits splurge included more than $5,600 worth of "gratuity wine" at Rio de Janeiro's embassy on Sept. 29, and nearly $6,000 worth of "gratuity whiskey" on Oct. 1, the day the shutdown began. The tab also included a $22,000-plus wine bill at Tokyo's embassy, and just shy of $16,000 worth of whiskey in Moscow.

Dave Williams, the president of the nonprofit watchdog group, told the paper that the department's tab for 2013 to date alone topped $400,000 -- three times the amount spent in all of 2008.

When asked about the alcohol spending amid a still-shaky economy, a State Department spokesperson told the paper, "it would be an oversimplification to look at a subset of purchases made by embassies overseas and draw a conclusion about the department’s operational priorities at the time."  The State Department also said the lavish spending is for "representational purposes."

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