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Posted at 3:40 PM ET, 01/19/2011

Obama administration scores sweet foreign swag

By Ed O'Keefe

One of the perks of the presidency? Cuff links. And silk Italian ties. One of the perks of being married to the president? Christian Dior handbags.

One catch: You can't keep any of it.

President and Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and dozens of other administration officials, military leaders and lawmakers received hundreds of gifts from foreign dignitaries in 2009, according to a 52-page inventory released Tuesday by the State Department.

Saudi King Abdullah was by far the most generous, giving almost $190,000 in gifts to the Obama Family, including a a ruby and diamond jewelry set for the first lady valued at $132,000, the most valuable item on the list. (See other highlights in the chart below.)

In addition to cuff links, ties, and jewelery, the Obamas also scored DVDs, framed portraits, vases, scarfs and Belstaff jackets.

Biden received a 40-piece handmade serving set from Lebanon valued at $350 and carpets from Pakistani President Ali Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Prince Albert of Monaco gave Clinton a 24-karat gold commemorative coin of his expedition to Antarctica valued at $500 while French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner presented her with a $750 Hermes silk scarf.

Among several gifts for Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates were a $900 rifle from Jordan's King Abdullah and a shotgun and five bullets valued at $985 from Egypt's defense minister.

During Obama's visit to Saudi Arabia in June 2009, the Saudi king also presented several gifts to members of the West Wing staff. According to the document, he gave a combined $107,200 in gifts to senior officials, including former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, senior advisers David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett, press secretary Robert Gibbs and speechwriter Jon Favreau.

By law, however, government officials must surrender any gifts valued at more than $350 to the government and may keep less expensive ones if they pay the stated value. Most items end up at the National Archives or General Services Administration. Perishable items gifted to the Obamas are handled by the U.S. Secret Service.

The State Department's list describes each item, its estimated value, the date of acceptance and the donor. In virtually every circumstance, the gift was accepted, because "non-acceptance would cause embarrassment" to the donor and the U.S. government. The government released a similar list in June 2009 that detailed gifts received during the final year of George W. Bush's presidency.

Some of the sweetest swag received by the First Family is listed below:

Gift Recipient Gift, Date of Acceptance, Value Identity of Foreign Donor and Government Justification for Acceptance
President Obama Mikimoto desk clock; black basketball jersey. Received Feb. 24, 2009. Est. Value: $1,495.00. Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso Non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to the donor and U.S. government.
President Obama Four boxes of dates and 12 bottles of wine. Received March 5, 2009. Est. Value: $500.00. Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika Non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and U.S. government.
President Obama Gold medal created by the Czech mint featuring an image of President Obama. Received April 4, 2009. Est. Value: $1,460.00. Petr Tulpa, Mayor of Jablonec Nad Nisou, Czech Republic Non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and U.S. government.
President Obama Twelve silk ties. Received: June 15, 2009. Est. Value: $1,680.00. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi Non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and U.S. government.
President Obama 50″ x 62″ rug with an image of President Obama. Received: Nov. 17, 2009. Est. Value: $1,200.00. Gadzhi Makhachev, head of Dagestan's Avar ethnic group, member of the Russian Duma Non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and U.S. government.
President Obama Porcelain sculpture of five oxen. Received Oct. 22, 2009. Estimated value: $1,200.00. Chinese President Hu Jintao Non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and U.S. government.
President and Michelle Obama One framed photograph of Queen Elizabeth II; one framed photograph of Prince Phillip. Received: April 1, 2009. Estimated value: $775.00. Queen Elizabeth II Non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and U.S. government.
President and Michelle Obama Two men's Belstaff jackets; one women's Belstaff jacket. Received: July 6, 2009. Est. Value: $3,071.00. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi Non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and U.S. government.
Michelle Obama Black Christian Dior handbag. Received: June 19, 2009. Estimated value: $4,500.00. French first lady Carla Sarkozy Non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and U.S. government.
Michelle Obama Painting of St. Michael the Archangel; set of six DVDs; one book. Received: Nov. 17, 2009. Est. value: $2,575.00. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and U.S. government.
The Obama family Limited edition copy of ''Beowulf''; painting entitled ''Bogland'' by Mark Dwyer; four books; limited edition Waterford crystal bowl. Received: March 17, 2009. Estimated value: $3,281.00. Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen Non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and U.S. government.

By Ed O'Keefe  | January 19, 2011; 3:40 PM ET
Categories:  Administration  
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Next: Planning ahead to Inauguration Day 2013

Comments

So... what happens to the swag once the Archives or GSA gets it? Is there just a storage create in a dark corner of some GSA warehouse full of executive branch gifts?

Posted by: samtm52 | January 19, 2011 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and U.S. government.
=================================================
I knew it! The Republicans are just being polite on Health Care Reform ...

Posted by: gannon_dick | January 19, 2011 10:12 PM | Report abuse

You say, "Prince Albert of Monaco gave Clinton a 24-karat gold commemorative coin of his exhibition to Antarctica ...

You mean "expedition."

Posted by: amreporter | January 20, 2011 6:44 AM | Report abuse

"exhibition to Antarctica"? Maybe he was down there mooning the penguins, being an exhibitionist.

Next time Obama should tell the PM of Italy to limit it to 2 ties to keep it under $350. Berlusconi always does seem to have sharp ties, regardless of his foibles (which seem fairly significant).

Posted by: cyberfool | January 20, 2011 12:52 PM | Report abuse

The items that exceed the cutoff amount are usually auctioned off to the employees of the receiving agency (e.g., State Department for gifts received by HRC). The proceeds are usually then donated to various charities.

Posted by: bigskells | January 20, 2011 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Next time Obama should tell the PM of Italy to limit it to 2 ties to keep it under $350. Berlusconi always does seem to have sharp ties, regardless of his foibles (which seem fairly significant).

Posted by: cyberfool | January 20, 2011 12:52 PM |

=======================================
Good catch. I wonder if the original gift was 14 ties ....

Posted by: gannon_dick | January 20, 2011 4:07 PM | Report abuse

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