Email Insights: Allen West blusters about the State Department’s liquor bill

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Editor’s note: SaintPetersBlog is introducing a new regular series, “Email Insight.” The series will attempt to glean nuggets of information from the never-ending barrage of emails sent daily by political campaigns. 

This holiday season, former U.S. Rep. Allen West wants you to know (in true Tea Party fashion) that the government is sponsoring a party with lots of booze — and taxpayers like you are picking up the tab.

In an email to supporters — with the subject line “this drink’s on YOU” — West takes issue with $400,000 spent on alcohol last year by the State Department, saying that money could have gone to “secure our embassy in Benghazi against terrorist assaults.”

According to West, and reported widely in the far-right blogosphere, that figure was more than triple the amount spent by the State Department in 2008, the last year of the Bush Administration.

West says the bill leaves American taxpayers with a “hangover.”

To make matters worse, West ticks off some “last-minute orders” made right before the 16-day federal shutdown — including $22,416 for wine in Tokyo, $15,900 for bourbon in Moscow and $6,000 for wine at the embassy in Rio on the day before the shutdown began.

Obama’s “ridiculous liquor budget” makes the administration — at least in West’s view — seem like a cadre of alcoholics.

The original story, first reported by Jim McElhatton in the far-right-leaning Washington Times (certainly not a friend to the administration), lists several “gratuity” gifts worldwide. Although McElhatton writes it is customary for overseas embassies to purchase liquor, he notes that alcohol spending has steadily increased under Obama’s watch.

Then again, so have prices overall.

Fortunately, West’s email does not call for donations (it would be not only ironic, but also a little tacky).

However, he does suggest signing a petition to defund the State Department’s liquor budget on his website – a tried-and-true way to get something just as valuable, a mailing list for the next email blast, when he does start asking for cash.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.