Being chief justice of the United States or U.S. attorney general can come with perks – like getting gifts from foreign dignitaries.
Of course, the State Department’s Office of the Chief of Protocol keeps tally of such presents. According to the latest list from the agency, featuring gifts bestowed to federal officials in 2010 and 2011, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. received some fancy sandstone bookends and a leather document box from Canadian and Italian officials. The swag’s total value estimated at just over $800.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. pulled in a bigger pile of loot, including an iPad, a Cartier watch and Persian rug, was valued at an estimated $5,275, according to the list obtained by the Wall Street Journal. (The full list contains all the offerings to the president, first lady and their children as well as other officials.)
Federal officials are constitutionally barred from accepting gifts from foreign states. But the gifts are still usually accepted, the most common official reason being “Non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and U.S. Government.” They then become government property, usually displayed in the receiver’s office or used for official purposes, like the case of Holder’s iPad. The rest — including Holder’s blingy watch — is transferred to the General Services Administration.