Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, is bringing back the so-called Madison Dinners, which have been criticized for the use of taxpayer dollars and overall diplomatic value. 

Two State Department officials told POLITICO the gatherings are set to resume with a dinner Monday, with at least three more set for September and October. 

The guest list for the dinner has been kept under wraps by a small group of State Department officials and Pompeo’s wife, Susan, who is deeply involved in preparations. The dinners also do not appear on Pompeo’s public schedule, further fueling speculation. 

Roughly two dozen dinners have been held since Pompeo became secretary of State in April 2018. However, the pandemic paused the practice. 

An investigation by NBC News found State Department officials involved in the dinners raised concerns internally that the events were essentially using federal resources to cultivate a donor and supporter base for Pompeo's political ambitions.  

NBC said 29% of invitees came from the corporate world while about a quarter of them hailed from the media or entertainment industries, with conservative media members heavily represented. About 30% work in politics or government and just 14% were diplomats or foreign officials. Every member of the House or the Senate who was invited has been Republican.

The diplomatic value of the dinners has been questioned because State Department employees confirm few department officials beyond the secretary and a few foreign diplomats are invited.

Invitations obtained by NBC News describe the dinners as an "intimate evening" in the spirit of James Madison, who as secretary of state "hosted dinners that gathered thinkers and leaders to share ideas on the future of America and the World."

"Through the Madison Dinner series, Secretary Pompeo honors their wisdom in seeing the value of building relationships and sharing intellectual thought to enrich our country and to further our diplomatic goals," an official invitation reads.

Pompeo and his wife Susan are under investigation by the State Department inspector general’s office over whether they used department resources for personal gaindespite approval by State Department legal advisers.

One State Department official told Politico the return of the dinners was “frustrating.”

“Dozens of department employees who support these dinners, from security officers to catering staff who prepare the food, facilities management and protocol staff, do not have the option to work these events remotely or turn down an assignment,” the official said.

In a May letter, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, expressed concern.

"I am concerned by allegations that the secretary appears to be using those taxpayer resources to host large domestic-focused political gatherings that serve little-to-no foreign policy purpose,"  Menendez wrote.The letter requested "a complete accounting" of funds used for the dinners and copies of any remarks Pompeo delivered.

State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said the dinners are "a world-class opportunity to discuss the mission of the State Department and the complex foreign policy matters facing our exceptional nation," adding, Pompeo "has benefited greatly from these gatherings as he has gained knowledge listening to his guests from all across the political spectrum and all around the world."

Ortagus confirmed the State Department plans to continue these dinners because they are “an important component” of Pompeo's execution as secretary of State.