The Department of Defense’s Inspector General announced Thursday that it has cleared acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan of allegations he violated ethics agreements by promoting the interests of his former employer, Boeing.
The Inspector General “did not substantiate any of the allegations and determined that Acting Secretary Shanahan fully complied with his ethical obligations and agreements regarding Boeing and its competitors,” according to a statement from the Pentagon. More than 30 witnesses, including Shanahan, were interviewed by the IG’s office, according to the statement.
“The Office of Inspector General took these allegations seriously, and our 43-page report of investigation, which we released today, describes our conclusions and the facts on which they are based. The evidence showed that Acting Secretary Shanahan fully complied with his ethical obligations and ethical agreements with regard to Boeing and its competitors,” Glenn Fine, the IG official who oversaw the investigation, said in an additional statement.
Shanahan, who worked at Boeing for more than 30 years prior to taking a job at the Pentagon, faced accusations of being overly warm toward the company and claims that he “disparaged the company’s competitors to his subordinates” from a federal watchdog called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics.
CREW filed a complaint in March asking the inspector general to launch a probe into whether Shanahan’s actions violated his signed ethics agreement which aims to ensure there are no conflicts of interest with Boeing while he is at the Pentagon.
“The Department of Defense Office of Inspector General has decided to investigate complaints that we recently received that Acting Secretary Shanahan allegedly took actions to promote his former employer, Boeing, and disparage its competitors, allegedly in violation of ethics rules,” a spokesman for the office responded in a statement when the probe was launched.
A US defense official told CNN at the time that the IG chose to launch the investigation because there is enough credible initial information beyond the complaint filed by CREW to warrant a probe into whether Shanahan violated his ethics agreement.
CNN has previously reported that if Shanahan is cleared of the allegations, President Donald Trump may decide to move ahead and send his nomination to the Senate to become the permanent defense chief.
So far, there are no indications that the White House is considering candidates other than Shanahan. Officials close to the acting secretary say he strongly believes he will be nominated by the White House.
The White House and Pentagon have both indicated Shanahan could not be nominated until the investigation is concluded.