WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ public affairs chief is being investigated by the department’s inspector general after allegations that she misused her authority and used her staff for personal business, U.S. officials said Tuesday.
The Pentagon issued a statement acknowledging there is an “ongoing review” of Dana W. White, but had no other comment.
The officials, who requested anonymity to discuss details of the investigation, said that White is alleged to have routinely used her personal staff to run errands, get her laundry, pick up lunch, and help with other appointments. They said she had a staff member drive her to work on a snowy day, and when the person complained she wrote a check to cover the cost of the trip.
Officials said White also is accused of retaliating against staff, and transferring employees out of their jobs without cause, including after staff complained about certain assignments and tasks. There has been frequent staff turnover in her office, and she’s had four different military assistants — usually a colonel in rank — in the last 16 months.
The use of staff for personal tasks is prohibited. At least two former employees filed complaints with the inspector general within recent months, but others have been interviewed in connection with the cases.
White, who is traveling in South America with Mattis, declined to comment. Bruce Anderson, spokesman for the IG, said “the DoD Office of Inspector General does not generally acknowledge or deny the existence of an investigation.”
The investigation was first reported by CNN.
White has worked as Mattis’ assistant defense secretary for public affairs since April 2017. Prior to that she worked as strategic communications director for the Renault-Nissan Alliance in Paris and was an adviser on the 2008 presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
The IG will conduct the investigation and, if the allegations are substantiated will release the report publicly. If the allegations aren’t substantiated the reports are usually not released.