Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan is under investigation by the Pentagon's internal watchdog for revitalizing his former company, Boeing, while he was stationed.
In a statement Wednesday, the Inspector General of the Defense Ministry said that he "had decided to investigate the complaints we received recently", which could indicate that Shanahan had acted "in violation of the rules of ethics".
This is a big problem and it will definitely put the role of Pentagon leader out of Shanahan's reach.
On March 13, Citizens for Accountability and Ethics in Washington – a nonprofit organization focused on government accountability – filed an ethics complaint with the Inspector General of the Pentagon. Citing reports, the complaint alleges that Shanahan, as Deputy Secretary of Defense, repeatedly defended the Boeing aircraft over Lockheed Martin in official conversations.
Prior to joining the Pentagon as number 2 of former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in 2017, Shanahan spent decades at Boeing and became one of the key leaders. He officially denied any decision related to Boeing to avoid a situation similar to this one.
Then, on March 14, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) asked Shanahan directly if he would accept such an inquiry, to which Shanahan replied, "Yes, I want it."
That may have helped bring the Pentagon watchdog to the issue. It remains to be seen whether Shanahan will still support the investigation as it progresses.
In a statement, Shanahan's spokesman, Colonel Joseph Buccino, said the defense chief was doing well with development.
"Shanahan has always maintained its commitment to abide by its ethics agreement filed with the DOD," said Buccino. "This agreement ensures that all matters relating to Boeing are handled by the appropriate Pentagon authorities in order to eliminate any perceived or actual conflict of interest with Boeing."
What the ethics complaint alleges Shanahan did
Politico reported in January that Shanahan was under review for favoring Boeing in the Pentagon, an issue that has worried legislators since his confirmation hearing.
Quoting unnamed US officials, Politico said Shanahan had dissected the production of the F-35 fighter plane by Lockheed Martin during "high-level meetings with the Pentagon". how to run a program. "If the contract for fighter jets had been" passed to Boeing ", he would have said," it would be much better ".
There has been a fierce rivalry between Boeing and Lockheed Martin for decades. It's not surprising that someone like Shanahan – who has passed 30 years at Boeing – would absorb an anti-Lockheed feeling during his stay there.
But he is supposed to keep those feelings to himself while he is a top US official, and even more so a Pentagon (acting) leader. It seems that he may not have done so and that he could possibly pay the price.