Patrick Shanahan, Acting Secretary of Defense, told Congress that he welcomes an inspector general investigation into whether he violated any ethics rules by promoting Boeing Co. products while serving in the Trump Administration.
Shanahan, who came to the Pentagon after spending more than three decades at Boeing, has routinely fended off questions about potential conflicts of interest with the aerospace company that also happens to be one of the largest suppliers for the U.S. military.
His public support for an investigation at Thursday’s Senate Armed Services hearing comes a day after a government watchdog group, called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), wrote a 9-page complaint to the Pentagon’s inspector general urging the agency to scrutinize the relationship. At issue is whether Shanahan urged the Pentagon to buy more Boeing-made F-15X fighter jets, which the Air Force does not want, and whether he castigated Boeing-rival Lockheed Martin Corp. during government meetings.
The group cited a Politico report in January that said Shanahan had been promoting Boeing while criticizing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, made by Lockheed Martin. The plane was “f-cked up,” he reportedly said, and Lockheed “doesn’t know how to run a program.”
“Acting Secretary Shanahan’s conduct regarding Boeing and its competitors indicate that he may have violated his ethics pledge for the same reasons that they raise significant concerns of an appearance of a lack of impartiality,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a statement.
Lt. Col. Joe Buccino, a spokesman for Shanahan, denied CREW’s allegations. “Acting Secretary Shanahan has at all times complied with his Ethics Agreement and will continue to do so,” he said “This agreement mandates that all matters related to the Boeing Company are routed to another Department of Defense official to ensure that there is no potential for a conflict of interest.”
Shanahan told reporters in January that claims of favoritism were “just noise” and he was ”biased toward performance; I am biased toward giving the taxpayer their money’s worth.”
The allegations, however, take on increased importance now that Shanahan, 56, is under serious consideration to become Defense Secretary. He has become the longest serving “Acting Defense Secretary” in the nation’s history: 71 days and counting. He stepped up from the No. 2 spot to take the lead role after James Mattis resigned as Defense Secretary on Dec. 31.
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Source:: Time – Politics