Dana White, the Pentagon’s top spokeswoman, could be in trouble.
White, one of the few high-ranking African-Americans in the Trump administration, works directly for Defense Secretary James Mattis. White is being investigated by the Defense Department Office of Inspector General for allegedly retaliating against staff members after she ordered them to run personal errands for her – a clear violation of government ethics.
Defense department staffers have reportedly filed multiple complaints against White. They claim White directed them to pick up items from the pharmacy, retrieve her dry cleaning, review her mortgage papers and buy pantyhose. The staffers also said White abruptly transferred employees who complained about how White repeatedly misused her staff.
According to CNN, more than a dozen staffers have been interviewed by the Office of Inspector General and the investigation continues.
White has not been charged with any wrongdoing but staffers accusations and the formal investigation doesn’t look good for her. It’s a shame that White, a high-profile spokeswoman appointed by President Donald Trump, is in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
CNN reported that Pentagon ethics standards state that Defense Department officials “may not direct or request subordinates to use official time to perform any activities other than official activities.”
The network said that one Defense Department staff member “made multiple 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.”
White is the second highly visible African-American woman in the Trump administration to make headlines this week: Former White House advisor Omarosa Manigault-Newman created a firestorm by publishing a tell-all book about her experiences in the White House, accusing Trump of being a racist, and releasing tape recordings of Trump and John Kelly, the White House Chief of Staff.
White, meanwhile, a former employee for Fox News, is embroiled in an ethics scandal that could become as serious as two other high-profile Trump administration officials: Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned in September after he spent more than $1 million in taxpayer funds for airline travel. And former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt quit in July after using aides as “personal servants,” which included ordering aides to book his hotel rooms on their personal credit cards.
White must have known about Price and Pruitt – and I’m sure she was aware that former U.S. Rep. John Conyers of Michigan resigned in disgrace last year after being accused of sexual harassment, mistreatment of staffers and showing up for meetings in his underwear.
Melanie Sloan, a lawyer who worked for Conyers, told the Detroit Free Press that Conyers constantly berated her and screamed at her.
Sloan said Conyers also once ordered her to babysit one of his children while attending a hearing on crime in New York City.
In the meantime, White is still on the job but she has a big problem: Staffers are ratting her out, one by one. As more staffers line up to discuss White’s possible ethics violations – and the longer the investigation continues – White’s tenure in the Defense Department could be torpedoed.
Some staffers are no doubt angry at White for using them as gofers to pick up dry cleaning and fetch pantyhose while others may feel she is an unprincipled manager.
Whatever the reasons, White finds herself in the crosshairs of a tense federal investigation at a time when several of her former colleagues have been forced out for similar ethical infractions.
In the weeks to follow, the Trump administration could end up with one less senior African-American aide in a chaotic environment where black faces are few and far between.
What do you think?
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