Interior Secretary Cecil D. Andrus will stop using taxpayer funds for buying or shipping liquor used at his agency's functions, his press spokesman said yesterday.
Chris Carlson, director of Interior's public affairs department, said, "He [Andrus] doesn't think taxpayer dollars should go for liquor."
Andrus issued the statement after The Washington Post reported that Interior is the biggest customer in a General Services Administration program that dispenses liquor confiscated by federal authorities to government agencies for use at their functions.
In one case, Interior paid $257 from appropriaterd funds to have 20 cases of vodka and gin shipped from San Francisco.
Under ther program, the head of an agency or his or her designee must personally approve each order for liquor. Interior received 75 gallons of confiscated spirits during the last fiscal year. The liquor generally is served by bartenders at government functions for staff members or outside visitors.
Carlson said Andrus, a former governor of Idaho, does not personally serve the liquor, although he drinks it. He delegated his authority to request the liquor to another official in the agency, Carlson said. He said he doesn't know if Andrus knew where the liquor was coming from or how it was purchased.
Under GSA rules, Andrus had to sign a letter authorizing the agency to provide the liquor at the request of another Interior official.
"He's [Andrus] is from Idaho, and he goes back there. People are going to think he's a boozer," Carlson said. "The story left the clear impression that he breaks it out for people. He does not personally break it out."