Speaker of the House John Boehner is reportedly using taxpayer money to send an aide to etiquette school. His spokesman is calling it "appropriate."
According to an article on CNN.com, the publication Roll Call first reported that Boehner spent $5,800 for his aide to attend a five-day course at the Protocol School of Washington. Roll Call quoted public records that list Boehner's payments.
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel defended the use of taxpayer funds to do this. "Part of the ceremonial role of the Speaker is hosting foreign dignitaries," he said. "It's appropriate to do this properly."
Indeed, as Speaker, Boehner does regularly host many events. The aide who is going to etiquette school is the one who handles the planning for most of those events.
Previous Speaker Nancy Pelosi had two aides who did this. However, not a dime of public money was spent for etiquette school. "We never did this," said Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill.
Pamela Eyring, the president and director of the Protocol School of Washington, said the government offers no formal training program, and her school is the only one in the country accredited to do so.
She said the training is important because those unfamiliar with etiquette when dealing with high level foreign leaders "can cause serious embarrassment to the United States or to the military if they don't know protocol."
The school teaches such necessities as proper rules on how to seat officials at events, cross cultural awareness, and the basics of how to write invitations and arrange place cards at dinner tables.
In the past the school has trained employees of various government agencies.