Obama Administration Spends $400k on Oil Portraits

2013 March 4
by bc3b

Not his own, but his top officials.

Barack Obama complains about the sequester – being forced to choose between programs for disabled kids and poor kids. Yet, he apparently has $400 million for additional foreign aid to the Muslim Brotherhood-led Egyptian government, $4 million for his family’s Hawaiian holiday and $400 thousand for oil portraits of his cabinet and top officials.

Long before cameras were invented, our founding fathers kept their images alive with painted portraits. Paintings of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson are part of American history.

But what began as official documentation of early leaders is now a formality, a tradition, a sign of prestige — and, some say, a burden on taxpayers.

Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense argues that it’s time for a change. “You really have to really wonder, is it worth the cost?” Ellis said. “It certainly strokes their ego but at a cost to taxpayers, and we can’t afford just ego strokes when we’ve got a trillion-dollar deficit and $16 trillion in debt.”

Ellis and other watchdogs haven’t been able to stop government spending on portraits of cabinet secretaries and generals. As the Washington Times first reported, the latest portrait for outgoing EPA administrator Lisa Jackson cost $38,350. Air Force Secretary Michael Donnelly’s portrait cost $41,200.

Commerce Secretary John Bryson’s portrait cost $22,500, the paper said. He served President Obama for eight months.

In the past two years alone, the Obama administration has spent almost $400,000 on oil portraits. The administration turned down ABC News’ request to enter a building to see some of the portraits hanging. But the White House told ABC News it is spending less than previous administrations did.

Some of the oil portraits are commissioned while secretaries are still serving.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack had a $22,500 portrait made, but when asked if we should stop doing oil portraits of former secretaries, he avoided the question.

Read more:

abc kerley portraits kb 130304 wblog Taxpayer Dollars Spent on Official Government Portraits

A $22,500 Kodak moment?

Hat tip: ABC News

48 Responses leave one →
  1. 2013 March 5 5:29 am

    Not surprising, highlighting one again that h1-b’s are mostly a joke\corp scam when it comes to their use for obtaining talent that “does not exist locally”.

  2. 2013 March 5 5:30 am

    err… once 🙄

  3. 2013 March 5 5:32 am


    Never forget this after time you swipe your CC card at Target (or other stores).

  4. 2013 March 5 5:35 am
    drdog09 permalink

    Maybe its the photographic angle or the lighting but the portrait is not even a good likeness of the guy. An why not go the full monty on the ego and show him mounted on a horse? 🙂

  5. 2013 March 5 5:36 am

    after = every. jeez..guess we know who needs coffee this morning.

  6. 2013 March 5 5:50 am
    drdog09 permalink

    KH, 1,

    You and I both know what is going on about the H1-B program —

    * Visa workers are akin to indentured servants, not able to leave their employ or switch regions readily even if they could find another employer. The `yank the visa` factor just reinforces that indentured status.
    * Employers get to skip half the FICA if they know how to play the game.
    * They are looking for cheap two fer one labor. Its the shotgun approach. If I hire a 100 foreign at half price I might get lucky and find 25 who simply rock my socks. The rest is just overhead.

    Better stop there before need blood pressure medicine.

  7. 2013 March 5 5:55 am
    drdog09 permalink

  8. 2013 March 5 6:06 am

    Bots at GA Tech – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21576376
    Gonna have to be much smaller (and those already exist) if they expect it to map an enemy hideout.

  9. 2013 March 5 6:10 am

    Day 1 400 new job postings…

    TSA Sealed $50-Million Sequester-Eve Deal to Buy New Uniforms
    Because you know.. the old uniforms were really the problem, don’t worry about that 50mil going back to the economy, the new ones will be made in Mexico, not that the old ones were not. 🙄 :facepalm:

  10. 2013 March 5 6:13 am
    drdog09 permalink


    I think Coburn misses the point. Not having commonsense is sine qua non of being a bureaucrat. The other that Coburn misses is that the budget process as currently practised is broken. Congressional committees look at budget requests based on numbers and rarely on content then are shocked to see what it was spent on. If these same idiots put a line in the sand and said if its over $100k then I want to see a description of the expenditure it just might occur to some to kill a few of these items. If the optics look bad some expenditures would be killed for political purposes.

  11. 2013 March 5 6:20 am

    Ummm this is already the case (assuming you don’t want one) so how is this really news? CBS 4 Denver lyou’re a couple months late.

    WH punts on unlocking cells after 100k votes received. /puts on fake shocked face

    A new bill is being proposed in Georgia that would ban towns and cities from deploying their own broadband — if there’s at least one person with a 1.5 Mbps downstream connection anywhere in a census block

    MF’ing scumbags. I’m not a fan of local government competing with private enterprise typically but this bill is flawed in may ways it’s just bad and even stunts those deployments already in progress (screwing tax payers even more), those of you in GA let your state reps know your opinion. It’s up for debate in committee today.

  12. 2013 March 5 6:22 am

    11 – Ain’t that the truth, of course equally the truth is they don’t want that type of sunshine applied to budgets, cause then it would apply to their pet distributions as well.

  13. 2013 March 5 6:22 am
    drdog09 permalink

    9, Probably a better choice — http://www.technologyreview.com/view/508226/cyphy-works-micro-drones-will-follow-you-indoors/ — Interestingly, its by GA Tech as well.

    Have seen some articles of droids that fit in a person’s hand. Marry that with the Google glasses for visual and you would have a pretty good kit for observation.

  14. 2013 March 5 6:34 am

    14 – FYI – That’s an MIT based project you linked too.

  15. 2013 March 5 6:39 am
    drdog09 permalink

  16. 2013 March 5 6:44 am
    drdog09 permalink

    Twitter to discontinue TweetDeck.

  17. 2013 March 5 6:50 am

    WTF is TweetDeck?

    “AFP – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that diplomacy has so far failed to deter Iran from pursuing its nuclear program, warning it was getting closer to crossing a crucial “red line.”

    uhhh with respect mr. PM just stfu already and let me know when the bombings begin ok, we all know more yapping isn’t gonna resolve this issue.

    relate: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/04/biden-aipac-speech-iran-threat

    Too bad nobody believes a word that comes out Bidens mouth, least of all those outside the US.

  18. 2013 March 5 6:50 am
    drdog09 permalink

    The whole unlocking thing could be solved with a very simple compromise. If you own the phone (ie you bought it, no contracts included.) you have the right to take it to any carrier you wish who will accept the device.

  19. 2013 March 5 6:51 am

  20. 2013 March 5 6:51 am
    drdog09 permalink

    I think we ought to change this post to the technology open thread…..

  21. 2013 March 5 7:03 am
    drdog09 permalink


    TweetDeck is a browser like tool for tweets that if I recall used WebKit and an API to be able to manage/track tweet threads. Essentially provided a programming interface via javascript to their backend. Putz with for a bit till I pretty much abandoned twitter as just another time waster.

  22. 2013 March 5 7:11 am

    #16 That looks interesting assuming the costs are real low.

  23. 2013 March 5 7:13 am

    As you can tell I’m not wrapped up in twitter either. 😉
    #21 – My bad. 🙂

  24. 2013 March 5 7:24 am

    TPB offered sanctuary in North Korea by dear leader Kim.
    Offer taken. L o L Well played Kim.

  25. 2013 March 5 7:30 am

    Nevermind #25, they got hacked (post was bs according to fb page), would have been hilarious if it was actually true. /aww shucks

  26. 2013 March 5 7:39 am
    justrand permalink

    been traveling for 5 days…so just now catching up.

    Reading the comments on this and other threads…and checking news around the net…I think we are VERY close to our Imperial Presidency over-reaching on the scale of 1775. Soon, groups of men & women will start pledging to stand together in peace…but ready for war if it comes to it.

    Paging John Parker…

  27. 2013 March 5 7:41 am
    drdog09 permalink

    26, then a few in the tech press got suckered too. I think I saw something like this on Wired?

  28. 2013 March 5 7:43 am
    drdog09 permalink

    JR, Yepper. Time for the `one if by land, two if by sea` encrypted comm net….

  29. 2013 March 5 8:33 am
    bc3b permalink

    justrand –

    “been traveling for 5 days…so just now catching up.”

    You on your way to Hut 1369, JR?

  30. 2013 March 5 11:22 am

    28 – Yeah I saw it elsewhere before checking their blog where it was posted, lots of people got sucked in. 🙂

    I see the administration is trying to deflect attention to foreign affairs…
    meanwhile among other things:



    “Avoid giving an answer that might be perceived as criticism of the Commander in Chief or any political party.”
    Pretty sure on the last one the civilians who got that can say god darn thing they want.

  31. 2013 March 5 11:41 am


    What’s hilarious about that story is that the flight attendants object too the change, something that previous to 9/11 was a relative non-issue.

    “The greatest threat to U.S. travelers is currently small, non-metallic bombs, not knives or sporting equipment, Pistole said. ”

    Currently John? Currently? No jack ass that’s been the primary threat since before 2001 and you know it.

  32. 2013 March 5 11:51 am

    Funny still… ok you can take 2 golf clubs on now but not 3.. you know cause that’s the difference between a plane being hijacked a third golf club, not to mention most box cutter blades are about the same size or less then the small pocket knives they are allowing on now. Water of course is still banned, but not you’re 4oz hair jel. :facepalm:

  33. 2013 March 5 12:41 pm
    bc3b permalink

    But, at least the DHS agents will be smartly dresses in their new $1,064 attire, produced in Mexico. I wonder if they come with sombreros?

  34. 2013 March 5 1:09 pm
    drdog09 permalink

    Hey common sense says it takes three clubs. Smashing heads on the way thru coach gets you down the fairway. The second club gets you past first class cabin using your 9 iron and just past the traps on the left and just a foot from the green in the rough. Then you use your Ping putter to break down the door and beat the crew to death….. Maybe a par 4.

    It all fits.

  35. 2013 March 5 1:41 pm

    Ladies (and gentlemen for that matter) you just lost one of your favorite excuses.

    ” A team of neurologists found that sexual activity can lead to “partial or complete relief” of head pain in some migraines.

    The study, from the University of Munster, Germany, suggests that instead of using a sore head as an excuse to refuse sex, making love can be more effective than taking painkillers. ”

    🙂 🙂
    Pass the word. 😛

  36. 2013 March 5 1:43 pm

    bc3b -No need like water, I think sombreros are confiscated and there by free. 😛
    Dr – nice!

  37. 2013 March 5 1:45 pm

    If you have an hour to kill read the comments on that TSA article, some\most of the posts contains priceless humor.

  38. 2013 March 5 2:25 pm

    Eric Holder: Drone strikes against Americans on U.S. soil are legal

    Well with him at Justice, what difference would it make if they weren’t?

    In the only really positive news I noticed today… Hugo Chavez – Dead at age 58.

  39. 2013 March 5 2:48 pm
    Deckard permalink

    O/T Hugo Chavez is plant food.

    (and the beat goes on . . . . the beat goes on . . . )

  40. 2013 March 5 3:18 pm
    Deckard permalink

    Meanwhile the Senate confirms John Brennan for CIA director. This is the same individual who refers to Jerusalem as “Al Quds” – the muslim name for the city.

    Oh yes, we’re in the BEST of hands . . . .

  41. 2013 March 5 4:06 pm

    Greeks start selling off islands, super cheaply in my opinion.

  42. 2013 March 5 4:16 pm

    Earlier today, 48 Syrian and nine Iraqi soldiers were killed in an ambush in Iraq’s western province of Anbar.
    From Al Jazeera:
    ” The soldiers crossed into Iraq from the Yaarabiya border crossing, the scene of heavy fighting on Saturday between rebels and troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, said Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Khalaf al-Dulaimi of the border protection forces on Monday. ”
    The defence ministry said in an online statement that the ambush was carried out “by a terrorist group that infiltrated into Iraqi territory coming from Syria,” and put the death toll at 48 Syrian soldiers and nine Iraqi guards.

    It said a number of unarmed Syrian soldiers wounded in fighting had fled to Iraq for medical treatment and were being transferred to Al-Walid border crossing to be returned to Syria through “official channels”.

    Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2013/03/48_syrian_9_iraqis_soldiers_ki.php#comments#ixzz2MiKVZMNX

    Yeah go ahead and support these guys Washington. 🙄

  43. 2013 March 5 4:38 pm

    How did I miss this last week? Anyway they are not longer ‘considering’, they are doing it.

    US to aid Syrian groups that support al Qaeda’s affiliate
    By Bill RoggioFebruary 28, 2013

    The US State Department announced today that it will provide nonlethal aid to two Syrian rebel groups, the Syrian Opposition Coalition and the Free Syrian Army. Both of these groups support and actively fight alongside the Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, which is al Qaeda’s affiliate in the war-torn country.

    The State Department announced that it would provide $60 million in direct aid to the Syrian Opposition Coalition, an alliance of Syrian groups that has come out in support of the Al Nusrah Front after the US designated it as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and al Qaeda in Iraq’s affiliate in Syria in December 2012.

    Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2013/02/us_to_aid_syrian_gro.php#comments#ixzz2MiQHhR7J

  44. 2013 March 5 5:49 pm
    RepublicanPundit permalink

    KH, what did you expect when John Kerry (Known Traitor) became Secretary of State.

  45. 2013 March 5 10:06 pm
    justrand permalink

    America being set up to fail…it used to sadden me, and now it just pisses me off more each day.


  46. 2013 March 6 3:58 am
    mulletover permalink

    Rather than an oil portrait, I would sooner see them all as a puddle of oil in the tracks of an 18 wheeler.

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