One of Defense Secretary James Mattis’ most senior civilian advisers is being investigated by the Defense Department Office of Inspector General for allegedly retaliating against staff members after she used some of them to conduct her personal errands and business matters, according to four sources familiar with the probe.
Dana White, the Trump administration political appointee who serves as the Pentagon’s chief spokeswoman, has been under investigation for several weeks after multiple complaints were filed against her.
White is alleged to have misused support staff, asking them, among other things, to fetch her drycleaning, run to the pharmacy for her and work on her mortgage paperwork. Staffers also charge that she inappropriately transferred personnel after they filed complaints about her.
White has not been found in violation of any federal regulation or policy at this point. The inspector general’s office declined to comment.
As many as half a dozen defense personnel, and possibly more, have been interviewed, the sources say. All the officials CNN spoke to asked that their names be withheld, not just because the investigation remains ongoing, but because of concerns about reprisal.
Dry cleaning and lunch runs
White did not respond to CNN’s request for comment about the allegations. Charles Summers, the principal deputy assistant to the secretary for public affairs, said: “This is an ongoing review about which we cannot comment.” White became spokeswoman in April 2017 and reports directly to Defense Secretary James Mattis.
Pentagon ethics standards state that “a DoD official may not direct or request subordinates to use official time to perform any activities other than official activities.”
CNN was told that some staffers did White’s errands and personal chores voluntarily because they thought she was very busy during the work day. But department standards are iron-clad: They apply even if a staff member doesn’t object to performing non-official tasks.
Multiple officials tell CNN that White on occasion told her staff to fetch her dry cleaning, purchase personal items for her and drive her to work on snowy days. After a complaint,
White reimbursed a staffer for the cost of mileage incurred driving her to the Pentagon.
One staff member made repeated trips to the pharmacy inside the Pentagon to purchase snacks and pantyhose for White. Staffers were repeatedly dispatched to the cafeteria to get her lunch, the officials say.
Those officials say the IG is looking into allegations that White also directed military and civilian staff to work on her mortgage application and other personal financial paperwork, and arrange her personal leisure travel. They say the IG is also looking into allegations that White had staff make numerous appointments with her personal hair and makeup artist, whose services she paid for herself, to come to her home and Pentagon office.
SOURCE: Barbara Starr