The Pentagon’s inspector general has opened an investigation into Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan potential bias towards Boeing [BA], his former employer, following a request from an ethics watchdog group, according to a spokeswoman.
The investigation, first reported by Politico, is in regards to alleged comments Shanahan made disparaging Boeing’s competitors and showing bias to the company where he previously served as a senior executive.
“The Department of Defense Office of Inspector General has decided to investigate complaints we recently received that Acting Secretary Patrick Shanahan allegedly took actions to promote his former employer, Boeing, and disparage its competitors, allegedly in violation of ethics rules,” Dwrena Allen, spokesperson for the DoD IG, told Defense Daily.
Independent ethics watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington officially filed a complaint calling for an investigation on March 13.
Shanahan testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week where he indicated that he would welcome an IG investigation into potential conflicts of interest with Boeing.
“In his recent Senate Armed Services Committee testimony, Acting Secretary Shanahan stated that he supported an investigation into these allegations. We have informed him that we have initiated this investigation,” Allen said.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent a letter to Shanahan on Jan. 31 asking for details on potential conflicts of interest with Boeing after her office received a series of anonymous reports alleging ethics violations.
“These reports illustrate that even if you are following the letter of the conflict-of-interest requirements, your decades of work for Boeing might be influencing – either intentionally or unintentionally – your behavior toward the company and its competitors, and other employees at the Department that are responsible for contracting decisions that involve Boeing,” Warren wrote. “In short, I am concerned that these reports indicate that your inherent real or perceived conflicts of interest may not have been satisfactorily resolved.”
Shanahan took over as the Pentagon’s top official on Jan. 1 following Jim Mattis’ resignation.
During a press conference in January, Shanahan was asked about Lockheed Martin’s [LMT] F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and allegations he was critical of the program.
“Am I still wearing a Boeing hat? I think that’s just noise. I’m biased towards performance. I am biased toward giving taxpayers their money’s worth. The F-35 unequivocally, I can say, has a lot of opportunity for more performance.”