Obama Administration Spent $180,000 on “Official Portraits” This Year

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


Because what would the nation do without an official portrait of EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson at a bargain basement $40,000. And it is bargain basement since the EPA’s cost to Americans has probably been closer to 400 billion dollars.

The portrait isn’t available yet, but you can use your imagination. Or your crayons.

But if you want to cheap out. A a 3-by-4-foot oil portrait of Agriculture Department Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack runs a mere $22,500. I would do it for 30 bucks, but it probably wouldn’t be all that flattering.

All told, the government has paid out at least $180,000 for official portraits since last year, according to a review by The Washington Times of spending records at federal agencies and military offices across government.

Ann Fader, president of Portrait Consultants in Washington, which represents portrait artists, said that because of policy, she could not discuss any specific government commissions. But she said some agencies start the search for an artist long before secretaries leave because paintings can take from eight to 14 months to complete and frame.

“These are done for future generations to see how we live now, and it’s really a tribute as well as part of a person’s legacy,” she said.

“It’s a tremendous privilege to paint a portrait of somebody as accomplished as these people,” she said

Do we actually need portraits of petty bureaucrats that nobody is eve going to remember a year later? Besides their real legacy is in the trillions and trillions of debt that these agencies helped pile up.

Now maybe if this were being done with NEA grants, I could almost get behind it. Give some talented fellow 20 grand to paint Lisa Jackson, Vilsack or Obama in elephant dung and we would at least get some value for our money.

HUD, EPA and USDA are hardly alone. The Commerce Department is spending $22,500 for a secretary’s portrait, while the Interior Department will pay $24,900, records show.

What if we put the Commerce Secretary’s portrait in a jar of urine and called it, “Pissing Away our Money.” That would be real art. And it would only offend one religion. Liberalism.

Steve Ellis, spokesman for the D.C.-based Taxpayers for Common Sense, said official portraits of presidents make sense, “but the further you move down the food chain, it’s less understandable.”

“It’s preposterous to think that these are all in the public domain for the art-enjoying public to review the merits of portraiture,” he said. “It’s about stroking egos.”

That was the reason why lords got their portraits done. We’re reverting to Feudalism and our Liberal Lords must have their perks.
You can compare the portrait of Carol M Browner with the real deal. Perhaps Carol could have taken 20 bucks from her annual six figure salary, extracted from taxpayers, to have a flattering portrait done of herself to hang in the living room of her own mansion bought for with stolen taxpayer money.

  • Mary Sue

    Wow, Obama is not only a narcissist, he employs them as well!

    • atthebeach

      If you are a "Lib/Lefty'. . .you are a narcissist. If you are totally in the tank for these isms' and those so associated; you are a mega narcissist. If your name is Obama; you are a psychopathic, mega narcissist. (We HAVE heard of 'the ONE'; no? It is the 'god-complex' thing that is so embedded; invited (aka totalitarian MO). . .chicken/egg. ..whatever. . ..

      (Funny; how these people who accept 'NO' God; really; still. . .imagine they are a 'God's gift' that keeps on giving'.. and so it is; the morally 'rational' are left to suffer; the insufferable.)

  • BS77

    Typing in on FPM is very very very slow….what gives??

    • Mary Sue

      you've got lag!

  • riverboatbill

    They could be made up by the thousands and used as dart board targets ,with the money going to Storm Sandy relief.

  • tanstaafl

    I am more than willing to paint as many portraits as the petty warlords in the Obama administration need for a mere 100,000 dollars. Small bills.

    • Mary Sue

      man get me in on some of that action. I will portray them as unicorns farting rainbows.

  • http://twitter.com/PainterPancakes @PainterPancakes

    To all Obama administration offices; I Dan Lacey, internationally renowned artist, creator of the continuing Obama Nude On A Unicorn series and many portraits of the President with pancakes on his head, will substantially beat the low bid on any official government portrait.