The United States (U.S.) State Department is investigating the case of a missing $5,800 bottle of Japanese whiskey that was gifted to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in 2019, based on the State Department filings in the federal register. The whiskey is a gift from the government of Japan; it is uncertain if Pompeo himself received the whiskey or if a staff accepted it. The department reported the issue in its annual accounting of gifts given to senior U.S. officials by foreign governments. Pompeo said on August 5, 2021, that he never received the bottle of whiskey. “It never got to me. I have no idea how the State Department lost this thing, although I witnessed great incompetence at the State Department during my time there.” Moreover, Pompeo’s lawyer, William Burck, bared that Pompeo has “no recollection of receiving the bottle of whiskey.”

In an interview with Fox News, Pompeo labeled the case as “crazy talk” and said that he is willing to cooperate in the investigation if the State Department contacts him. The case could raise ethics concerns for the former Secretary of State, who has made strong indications that he would be running for the presidency in 2024. U.S. officials are not allowed to accept personal gifts from foreign governments. However, non-acceptance could cause embarrassment to the donor, so the gifts are turned over to the government archives. Failure to disclose personal gifts could result in a $50,000 civil penalty or even jail time, according to government ethics expert Walter Shaub.