(CNN)The State Department made an “informal” inquiry to the US Navy in 2018 about whether arrangements could be made for Secretary Mike Pompeo to live in military housing, a request that the Navy deemed “problematic” because of “factual, legal, fiscal, and ethical issues,” according to an internal Navy memo obtained by watchdog group American Oversight and shared with CNN.
The request raised the issue of a potential “Appearance of Impropriety… relating to a civilian Secretary of State displacing a uniformed member of the military in a tight housing market,” as there was at the time “a housing waiting list of Navy Flag personnel,” according to the memo. The memo further points out that houses that would be appropriate for Pompeo “are extremely scarce… and are all currently occupied” by high-ranking Navy officials, such as the Chief of Naval Operations and Commandant of the Marine Corps. The memo, first reported by Politico, was obtained by the independent ethics watchdog group, American Oversight. A Navy lawyer, whose name is redacted, notes in the memo that the Navy had been contacted “apparently through informal channels” by State Department security officials to ask about housing for Pompeo. ‘No information’Read More”No information has been provided regarding whether DOS intends to fund and procure the housing for the Secretary,” or if the lease was being sought by Pompeo in his personal capacity, the lawyer wrote.”The question of permitting the Secretary of State—or any other member of the Executive Cabinet—to occupy Navy Flag housing in the Washington DC area is problematic,” the memo said. “A number of factual, legal, fiscal, and ethical issues must be examined and resolved.”According to the Navy memo, there were a number of legal issues that would potentially prevent the Navy from providing housing to Pompeo, as well as practical considerations about the logistics of such a request, the potentially high cost of which would have to be reimbursed by the State Department to the Navy.Pompeo currently lives in military housing on Fort Myer base in Virginia, which is different than the Navy housing request referenced in the memo. A State Department spokesperson told CNN that “Secretary Pompeo personally pays fair market value (rent) for the residence, which is a modest home. The government does not pay for his housing. The decision to move to a secure environment has saved taxpayers money on his security costs, and this has been fully vetted by our lawyers and was approved by DOD.”The State Department did not comment on the request for Navy housing.Pompeo has faced intense scrutiny since President Donald Trump fired the State Department Inspector General Steve Linick in May at Pompeo’s request while Linick was conducting multiple investigations into Pompeo’s conduct.State Dept watchdog finds Saudi arms sale was legal but risks to civilians weren't fully assessed Pompeo subsequently ridiculed the investigations but refused to say why he recommended Linick’s firing.Like the Navy memo, the IG investigations raised questions about Pompeo’s potential ethics violations, but addressed a broader range of issues.Linick testified to Congress that his office was investigating Pompeo’s potential misuse of taxpayer funds. Three more probes included an audit of Special Immigrant Visas, a review of the International Women of Courage Award and another review “involving individuals in the Office of the Protocol.”One of the investigations into the legality of a multibillion-dollar arms sale to Gulf allies resolved with a report issued earlier this month that found that the State Department complied with legal requirements but did not fully assess the risks to civilians associated with that sale. Linick testified that a senior Pompeo aide tried to “bully” him to stop pursuing the probe. Pompeo has often used official overseas and domestic travel to meet with political donors and important domestic constituencies, such as in his home state of Kansas, raising questions about whether he was using taxpayer-funded travel to help further his own domestic political ambitions. Pompeo has previously said he is interested in running for President.Additionally, CNN reported last summer that Democrats on a key House congressional committee were investigating allegations by a State Department whistleblower of Pompeo’s improper use of Diplomatic Security for personal errands, such as picking up Pompeo’s dog or takeout food without Pompeo in the car, prompting agents to lament they are at times viewed as “UberEats with guns.”This story has been updated with a statement from the State Department.