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Boeing bias? Acting Pentagon chief faces probe

Patrick Shanahan
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan speaks at an event presented by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (Department of Defense Photo)

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, who was a veteran Boeing executive before going to the Pentagon, is facing an ethics investigation amid complaints that he has been talking up his former employer and disparaging Boeing’s competitors.

The Defense Department’s Office of the Inspector General today acknowledged that it was looking into the complaints about actions that were “allegedly in violation of ethics rules.”

Shanahan, who spent much of his 31 years at Boeing managing commercial airplane programs, won Senate confirmation to become assistant defense secretary in 2017 and took over as acting defense secretary after James Mattis’ departure at the end of last year.

When Shanahan came to the Pentagon, he pledged to recuse himself from any matters involving Boeing. But in January, Politico quoted two unnamed former government officials as saying that he repeatedly praised Boeing and trashed Lockheed Martin during high-level internal meetings.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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