Ethics group calls for investigation into Shanahan's Boeing ties

By Tony Bertuca / March 13, 2019 at 12:25 PM

A Washington watchdog group has filed a complaint against Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan, requesting the Defense Department's inspector general investigate allegations he has improperly favored his former employer Boeing in the awarding of defense contracts.

"According to news reports, during his tenure at the Department of Defense ('DOD') Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has made numerous statements promoting his former employer Boeing and has disparaged the company's competitors before subordinates at the agency," according to a letter sent to the IG's office by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which "respectfully requests that the Office of Inspector General investigate these allegations to determine whether Acting Secretary Shanahan violated ethics rules, including the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch ('Standards of Conduct') and the Ethics Pledge he signed as a condition of his appointment."

Asked whether it would pursue an investigation into Shanahan, the IG's office did not immediately respond.

"Secretary Shanahan has at all times remained committed to complying [with] his Ethics Agreement, which screens Boeing matters to another DOD official and ensures no potential for a conflict of interest with Boeing on any matter,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Joe Buccino said in a statement. “Secretary Shanahan remains focused on increasing lethality across the military and aligning the Department along the National Defense Strategy.”

The CREW complaint, first reported by Military Times, cites various media reports about concerns over Shanahan's ties to Boeing.

The complaint, meanwhile, comes as President Trump considers whether he will nominate Shanahan as defense secretary.

"Mr. Shanahan reportedly praised Boeing in discussions about government contracts, said that Boeing would have done much better than its competitor Lockheed Martin had it been awarded a fighter jet contract, and repeatedly 'dumped on' the jet Lockheed produced," the complaint states. "News reports also asserted Mr. Shanahan prodded DOD to include funding for more Boeing-produced fighter jets in next year’s budget. His conduct and comments reportedly were perceived by DOD employees as 'boosting' Boeing."

The Pentagon has staunchly denied allegations Shanahan is unfairly biased toward Boeing and has said the decision to buy more Boeing F-15s over Lockheed-made F-35s in fiscal year 2020 was made by former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and cost assessment and program evaluation officials.

Shanahan, meanwhile, is scheduled to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee tomorrow on the fiscal year 2020 budget request.