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Former Chief of Naval Operations nominee used Gmail account for military use, Pentagon probe finds

SUFFOLK, Va. (March 27, 2019) Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran speaks to command master chiefs from around the Navy at the 2019 Leadership Mess Symposium. Moran spoke about cultivating toughness, strengthening trust and building winning teams to achieve higher performance and increased readiness.(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Sarah Villegas/Released)
September 03, 2019

A Navy Admiral who was once approved to become the next Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) has been found to have violated Department of Defense rules by using a personal email account for professional military use, according to a Defense Department investigation.

Adm. Bill Moran used a Gmail account to communicate with professional contacts while also failing to properly archive the materials, Military.com reported.

“We reviewed 572 pages of e-mails from Admiral Moran’s personal Gmail account, dated from December 14, 2016, through June 5, 2019, which included e-mail communications with the Navy commander and 12 other Navy personnel, including military, civilian, and contract employees,” the Pentagon’s watchdog agency said in a statement Wednesday.

Moran sent emails about sensitive topics including Navy readiness, speeches that hadn’t been made available to the public, areas where the military should increase its presence and reactions to the media.

“I … did not appropriately archive this material in a timely manner,” Moran said, according to the report. Notably, he claimed that “at no time was there any exchange of classified material” in those emails.

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Moran was approved by the Senate Arms Committee to replace current CNO Adm. John Richardson in June, but just 25 days later on July 8, he retired from the Navy.

He retired when news broke that he was in a professional relationship with Chris Servello, a former Naval public affairs employee involved in a sexual harassment scandal.

“My decision to maintain this relationship was in no way an endorsement or tacit approval of this kind of conduct,” Moran said. “I understand how toxic it can be to any team when inappropriate behavior goes unrecognized and unchecked. Every sailor is entitled to serve in an environment free of harassment or intimidation.”

The current CNO nominee to replace Richardson, Vice Adm. Michael Gilday, has taken a stance to combat scandals rocking the Navy, and previously said he was anxious to review current investigations.

“Ethics is a particularly important point for me and that begins at the top of my leadership and extends through all of the flag officers as well as our commanders, right down through the chief petty officers,” Gilday said. “Every day we go to work, we bring our values with us. It is especially important in combat that those values be maintained.”

Gilday was nominated to become the next CNO on July 11.

“It has never been more important that our Navy have principled leaders who promote respect throughout the ranks, and adhere to a moral code that can serve as an example to all our sailors and Marines,” said committee ranking member, Sen. Jack Reed. “We all expect and demand that you will be that leader.”

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