Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan may have used his official position to help his former employer, Boeing.
Another scandal in the Trump administration is unfolding, this time at the Pentagon.
On Wednesday, the Pentagon's inspector general announced an investigation into Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan after allegations arose that he used his official position to steer money to his former employer, Boeing, and away from competitors like Lockheed Martin.
"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," a Defense Department spokesperson said.
Shanahan is accused of "putting his finger on the scale" for Boeing around spending projects, based on reporting from Politico. When Shanahan was deputy secretary, he allegedly slammed Boeing rival Lockheed Martin for their work on an F-35 fighter jet, saying the plane is "fucked up" and Lockheed "doesn’t know how to run a program."
In addition, Bloomberg reports Shanahan prodded the Defense Department to purchase several F-15 fighter jets made by Boeing despite the Air Force saying they did not want them. The cost of the unwanted fighter jets was $1.1 billion.
The investigation was opened just weeks after the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington lodged a formal complaint about Shanahan's alleged behavior.
Despite the ethics cloud swirling around Shanahan, several media outlets report that Trump is likely to nominate him to become the permanent defense secretary. Shanahan is already the longest-serving acting secretary in Defense Department history.
The investigation comes on the heels of two civilian Boeing 737 Max planes crashing in the last six months, killing more than 450 people. As many countries grounded that aircraft after the second crash, Trump dithered after he received a call from Boeing's CEO — the same CEO who donated $1 million to Trump's inauguration.
Shanahan joins a long list of Trump administration officials facing scandals. The list includes: former HHS Secretary Tom Price (taxpayer-funded travel), former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt (lavish spending), former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (shady land deal), former VA Secretary David Shulkin (taxpayer-funded travel), Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (unconstitutional acts on 2020 Census), and numerous White House officials.
One former official, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about ties to Russia and has been cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
In addition to his high-level appointees, Trump himself is at the center of investigations dealing with unlawful hush-money payments to alleged mistresses and colluding with Russia to influence the 2016 campaign.
So maybe a scandal involving Shanahan helps him fit in with the rest of the unethical cronies in Trump's orbit.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.