Ex-DoD Spokeswoman Habitually Abused Pentagon Ethical Regulations

They picked up her dry cleaning, they picked up her lunch and snacks. They purchased her train tickets and they drove her to work. They sent flowers out of her office and ordered flowers for her office. They scheduled her make-up appointments and purchased her pantyhose.

And when Dana W. White, a political appointee from the Trump administration and the Defense Department's former chief spokeswoman, asked for research for a new exercise bike or asked for her personal financial paperwork to be filled out for yearly taxes and retirement funds, her Pentagon staff did that too, the agency's top watchdog concluded in a report released on Thursday.

Throughout her tenure, White habitually abused her executive position and violated ethics regulations by either directing or allowing subordinates to run personal errands for her, the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Defense determined.

The tasks often occurred both during and after official duty hours, said the 62-page report. You can read the Inspector General's report at the bottom of this article.

"We concluded that while one or very infrequent instances of use of a subordinate's time for personal service may not have been an ethical violation, Ms. White engaged in an overall course of conduct that violated the JER [Joint Ethics Regulations] when she encouraged, requested, or allowed her subordinates to perform numerous services for her that were personal in nature and not related to their official duties," the report said.

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Alex Wong/Getty

White, a former Wall Street Journal editorial writer and policy aide to the late Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, abruptly resigned her position in December after first being appointed to the top job in April 2017 by then-Defense Secretary James Mattis, the former U.S. Marine general.

CNN first reported in August 2018 White was under investigation and facing accusations that she retaliated against members of her staff and was disrespectful to her subordinates. The report details the claims made by her executive assistant and senior military assistant, but the inspector general's office did not find enough evidence to substantiate the claims.

"We did not substantiate the allegation that Ms. White failed to treat subordinates with respect," said the report.

White pushed back on the report's conclusions late Thursday afternoon when she sent reporters a statement, saying, she was "disappointed" the inspector general, "substantiated any of the allegations raised by two disgruntled civil servants who refused to accept changes I made to improve Public Affairs at the Defense Department."

"Every decision I made was to advance our mission and maximize our impact," she said in the statement. "I relied and acted on the advice of the DOD Office of General Counsel to make all of these decisions. The [Inspector General], however, chose to ignore this fact."

White lamented in her testimony to the inspector general that she reimbursed her employees on several occasions, such as trips to and from the Pentagon or directing her senior military assistant to buy her pantyhose from CVS. The inspector general, however, found that the incidents violated the Pentagon's ethic regulations sparking condemnation from White in her statement Thursday.

"The DOD OIG went so far as to criticize me for paying-with my own money-for weekly flower deliveries to spruce up our office and make-up artist for my on-camera briefings," said White. "Such investigations and conclusions will deter political appointees from reforming a bureaucracy that is ineffective, antiquated and fiercely protected by too many civil servants wedded to the status quo and under serving the American taxpayer."

The report also revealed that the inspector general could not substantiate a claim aimed at Charlie Summers, who was then the principal deputy assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs. The allegation suggested he failed to intervene after learning about White's ethical misconduct.

"We concluded that Mr. Summers' course of action in talking directly with Ms. White about misusing her subordinate's time to perform personal services for her was reasonable," the report states. Summers took over White's position after her resignation in December.

Jonathan Hoffman, the former assistant secretary of homeland security for public affairs, has since taken over White's position, moving Summers back to his role as deputy assistant.

"Such investigations and conclusions will deter political appointees from reforming a bureaucracy that is ineffective, antiquated and fiercely protected by too many civil servants wedded to the status quo and under serving the American taxpayer," said White in her statement on Thursday.

Ex-DoD Spokeswoman Habitually Abused Pentagon Ethical Regulations | U.S.
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