- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 25, 2019

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has been cleared by a Pentagon watchdog of charges that he lobbied for defense aerospace giant Boeing, his former employer, after coming to work at the Pentagon in 2017.

The decision clears a major hurdle that held up President Trump’s possible nomination of Mr. Shanahan for the permanent secretary position. Mr. Shanahan, who took over at the Pentagon on Jan. 1, after former Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned, previously worked as a top executive for Boeing for 30 years.

The allegations were first brought to the Pentagon inspector general’s office by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) last month. The group claimed that Mr. Shanahan violated ethical rules by advocating for Boeing in competitions for major defense projects as deputy secretary.

In its conclusion of the investigation, the IG’s office did not “substantiate any of the allegations [and] determined that Mr. Shanahan fully complied with his ethics agreements and his ethical obligations regarding Boeing and its competitors.”

The acting defense secretary has “routinely” referred to his former industry experience in meetings, the report said, which witnesses interpreted in ways “to describe his experience and to improve government management of DoD programs, rather than to promote Boeing or its products,” and “were directed at holding contractors accountable.”

Mr. Shanahan has said he has had no contact with his former employer about the Boeing 737 Max 8 jetliners, two of which have crashed in recent months, and supports a full federal investigation into the events.

Mr. Shanahan has recused himself from any and all business dealings between the Pentagon and Boeing.

With pressure building on President Trump to name a permanent defense secretary, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, said he would welcome a quick probe of the conflict-of-interest issues involving Mr. Shanahan.

Mr. Trump has said in the past he is “in no rush” to choose a permanent replacement for Mr. Mattis, who was well-liked on Capitol Hill, and has even mused that he at times prefers “acting” appointees because they give him more “flexibility.”

As of Thursday, Mr. Shanahan has been in his current position for 112 days, making him the longest serving acting defense secretary ever.

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