The Washington Post

Call for permanent portrait ban revived

As former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff’s portrait secured its place on the hallway wall outside the secretary’s agency office, a Democratic senator renewed her effort to limit how much the federal government can spend on costly oil paintings of federal officials.

After the Loop reported this week that Chertoff’s portrait cost the agency $30,500 and was in the works several years, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) re-upped a bill she introduced in December that would not completely ban taxpayer-funded portraits, but cap the price tag at $20,000 a pop. It stipulates that federal funds only be used for “officials in line for the presidency,” which allows cabinet secretaries to keep one of the perks of the job.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright raises her arms at the unveiling of her official portrait as the 64th Secretary of State at the State Department in Washington, Monday, April 14, 2008. (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson) Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright raises her arms at the unveiling of her official portrait as the 64th Secretary of State at the State Department in Washington, Monday, April 14, 2008. (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)

Any official seeking a more expensive replication of him or herself could use private dollars.

“With all due respect to former Secretary Chertoff and his service, this is exactly the type of government spending our country can do without,” Shaheen said. “The federal government should pay for these types of portraits in a way that protects taxpayers instead of wasting their money.”

The fiscal 2014 omnibus spending bill forbid all spending on portraits for the year, but it was not a permanent ban.

Loop efforts to obtain a photo of the Chertoff portrait from DHS were not immediately successful.

Colby Itkowitz is the lead anchor of the Inspired Life blog. She previously covered the quirks of national politics and the federal government.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
New Hampshire has voted. The Democrats debate on Thursday. Get caught up on the race.
What happened in New Hampshire
The Post's Philip Rucker and Robert Costa say...
For Trump, the victory here was sweet vindication, showing that his atypical campaign could prevail largely on the power of celebrity and saturation media coverage. But there was also potential for concern in Tuesday's outcome. Trump faces doubts about his discipline as a candidate and whether he can build his support beyond the levels he has shown in the polls.
The Post's John Wagner and Anne Gearan say...
Hillary Clinton, who was declared the winner of the Iowa caucuses last week by the narrowest of margins, now finds herself struggling to right her once-formidable campaign against a self-described democratic socialist whom she has accused of selling pipe dreams to his supporters.
Quoted
People have every right to be angry. But they're also hungry for solutions.
Hillary Clinton, in her New Hampshire primary night speech
Quoted
I am going to be the greatest jobs president that God ever created.
Donald Trump, in his New Hampshire primary victory speech
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
See results from N.H.

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.