Treasury Officials Party the Night Away at the Bezos Mansion

Treasury Officials Party the Night Away at the Bezos Mansion

  • May 16, 2024
The dinner may not have been sumptuous, but the surroundings and the company made up for it.

They say the rich don’t get that way by squandering money, and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos seems to be no exception – at least according to the U.S. Treasury officials he entertains. FOIA documents obtained by watchdog Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT) reveal that top U.S. Treasury officials, including Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo, have been guests at Mr. Bezos’ Washington, D.C. mansion, where they attended parties and dinners, rubbing elbows with special interest groups, and stretching the boundaries of the public’s declining trust.

Mr. Bezos is becoming a prolific D.C. socialite. With a $23 million mansion in the elite Kalorama neighborhood, and with high profile neighbors such as President Barack Obama, Mr. Bezos uses his valuable real estate to host climate think tanks, bureaucrats from international organizations, and, apparently, U.S. government officials. Ethics disclosures obtained by PPT reveal that Mr. Bezos hosted Treasury officials Wally Adeyemo and Alexia Latortue at his mansion for an event sponsored by the Bezos Earth Fund, COP26, and the Rockefeller Foundation. There seems to be disagreement on how much their refreshments were worth: Mr. Adeyemo claimed the fair market value of his meal was $50 while Ms. Latortue claimed $25. Interestingly, Ms. Latortue had attended an event at the Bezos mansion the previous month declaring the fair market value of the meal at $50. With his Washington Post hemorrhaging money, it appears champagne and caviar are no longer on the menu at the Bezos mansion.

Interestingly, Treasury approved Adeyemo and Latortue to be among the 17 attendees (according to Mr. Adeyemo, 45-50 per Ms. Latortue) – including “Ambassadors, Finance Ministers, NGOs including IMF/WB, and Government Officials” – “pursuant to the Widely Attended Gathering (WAG) exception.” Their attendance also was determined not to violate the Biden Ethics Pledge “since sponsors have been confirmed not to engage in lobbying activity.” But this appears not to be the case. The Bezos Earth Fund admits to lobbying activities on its website (“sometimes through public policy design and lobbying”). Further, the organization recently allocated $3 million dollars to “accelerate progress among US financial regulators as they address climate as a systemic risk.” One can only speculate if this dinner was paid for by this allocation.

“It is disappointing, yet not too surprising to see President Biden’s Treasury officials hobnobbing with special interests at the swanky mansion of one of the world’s richest people,” said PPT Director Michael Chamberlain. “In fact, the only surprise is the cut-rate food they were forced to endure. Also not surprising is the trust of the American public in its government continuing to nosedive, for, while everyday Americans grapple with growing consumer debt and punishing interest rates, Treasury officials are telling us ‘let them eat (discounted) cake!’”