Ed Schafer portrait draws controversy
The Environmental Protection Agency spent almost $40,000 on a portrait of Administrator Lisa Jackson, and a painting of Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donly cost $41,200, according to examples cited by The Washington Times.
Schafer, reached Tuesday for comment, said he at first questioned the need for the portrait, which was handled by a committee, but bowed to a tradition that dates back to the first secretary of agriculture, named in 1862 by Abraham Lincoln.
Still, Schafer, also a former North Dakota governor, said he understands critics who are concerned about the use of taxpayer funds to pay for official portraits in Washington.
“They are way too expensive in my opinion,” said Schafer, a Republican. “I was like, ‘Can’t we get a cheaper artist? Could we get somebody who’s up and coming?’ ”
Schafer said he was told a private foundation pays for the portraits of agriculture secretaries but said he was not able to confirm that.