Pentagon Spokesperson Dana White resigns amid misconduct probe

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Dana White
Former Department of Defense spokesperson Dana White. Image: Secretary of Defense (CC2.0)

Department of Defense spokesperson Dana White resigned unexpectedly on New Year’s Eve amid a formal internal investigation into possible mistreatment of her staff.

Dana White bows out with 2018

With just hours to go before the end of the year (and the departure of her boss, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis) DoD spokesperson Dana White surprised Washington with a tweet announcing she would be departing as well.

“I appreciate the opportunity afforded to me by this administration to serve alongside Secretary Mattis, our Service members and all the civilians who support them,” she tweeted. “It has been my honor and privilege. Stay safe and God bless.”

White began her spokesperson role in April 2017. Previously she had been a journalist for the Wall Street Journal and a foreign policy adviser for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Grateful as White was for the opportunity to serve the Trump administration, she did not spend much of her tenure as spokesperson actually speaking to the public. Her last on-camera briefing was in May.

Coincidentally, May is also the month the Pentagon’s inspector general launched a formal investigation into White’s behavior towards her staff on the basis of at least two complaints.

Laundry, lunch, and snowstorms

Initially reported by CNN in August, White has faced multiple complaints from staffers for insisting they do menial, personal tasks for her.

These tasks include picking up her laundry, buying her lunch, helping her fill out her mortgage paperwork, and driving her to work on snowy days.

When two staffers complained to senior officials in May they were quickly transferred to other departments. This led to formal complaints with the Pentagon Inspector General.

Dana White may have broken DoD ethics standards

Before his resignation in May, Congressman Tom Garrett’s staff complained they were regularly treated like servants. The ethics standards for Department of Defense officials appears to be even more clear-cut than for elected officials however. Official policy states, “A DoD official may not direct or request subordinates to use official time to perform any activities other than official activities.”

In a statement issued to DoD public affairs colleagues on Monday, Dana White wrote, “I am grateful to the administration for giving me the opportunity to serve alongside Secretary Mattis, the brave men and women in uniform, and all of the civilians who support them.”

The departing Defense Secretary’s reputation with his subordinates is entirely different from White’s, however.

Mattis notably carries his own luggage, picks up his own laundry, and once, as an unmarried Brigadier General, swapped assignments with a young officer under his command on Christmas Day to allow him to be with his wife and children.

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