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DOD IG to probe allegations acting Pentagon chief’s actions benefited former employer

U.S. Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan holds a press conference at NATO headquarters, during a two-day defense ministerial, Brussels, Belgium, Feb. 14, 2019. (Lisa Ferdinando/Department of Defense)

The Defense Department’s Inspector General will probe allegations that acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan’s actions as a Pentagon official might have benefited his former employer, Boeing, the Pentagon watchdog announced Wednesday.

The investigation will determine whether Shanahan has promoted Boeing, where he worked for more than 30 years before arriving at the Pentagon in 2017, or disparaged the massive aerospace firm’s competitors, an IG statement said Wednesday. When Shanahan was sworn in as the deputy defense secretary in July 2017, he signed an ethics pledge, vowing he would recuse himself from any issues that could impact Boeing.

The probe follows a complaint issued last week by an independent and nonpartisan government watchdog group based in Washington, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, which questioned Shanahan’s actions as the Pentagon’s No. 2 civilian and as the acting secretary, his job since since Jan. 1.

The acting secretary has been informed of the investigation, said Dwrena Allen, a spokeswoman for the IG.

Shanahan has previously denied any wrongdoing and told lawmakers last week that he welcomed the probe.

“Acting Secretary Shanahan has at all times remained committed to upholding his ethics agreement filed with the DOD,” Army Lt. Col. Joe Buccino, a spokesman for Shanahan, said Wednesday. “This agreement ensures any matters pertaining to Boeing are handled by appropriate officials within the Pentagon to eliminate any perceived or actual conflict of interest issue with Boeing.”

In its March 13 complaint, CREW cited several media reports that indicated Shanahan in private meetings had promoted Boeing products to his subordinates and had disparaged Lockheed Martin, which was chosen over Boeing to build the F-35 Lightning II advanced fighter jet.

Shanahan, 56, was named acting defense secretary by President Donald Trump on Jan. 1 after serving as the Pentagon’s No. 2 under former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis since July 2017. He had previously been employed at Boeing since 1986, working on military-related programs as well as commercial aviation. He was serving as the company’s senior vice president for supply chain and operations when he left to work at the Pentagon.

Shanahan has been considered among Trump’s top choices to be nominated to the defense secretary post, but Pentagon and White House officials have declined to comment publicly about him or others who could be tapped to fill the position.


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