Pentagon IG dings department historian for using ‘public office for private gain’

A recently released Pentagon inspector general’s report found that the department’s chief historian, Erin Mahan, “on occasion engaged in unprofessional conduct  in the office” by “discussing personal medical issues. . . and speculating about an employee’s sexual orientation,” that “she directed two contract employees to plan, organize and execute” office social events and that she had those employees babysit when she brought her son to work and to “transport the child to and from daycare” — thus using her “public office for private gain.”

(Photo: AFP/Getty Images)
(Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

The investigation report, dated Dec. 27, 2012, was released more than nine months after The Washington Post filed a Freedom of Information Request for the document. (We’re told this is pretty much the typical interminable turnaround on public record requests by the Defense Department IG’s office.) We apologize for their tardiness.

The IG also found that Mahan “improperly promised two subordinates” that each of them was in line to be the next deputy chief historian.

In the report, Mahan dismissed the IG’s conclusions as based on “office gossip and uncorroborated hearsay.” In response, the inspector general said that “we based our conclusions on the preponderance of the evidence” and “we stand by our conclusions.”

A Pentagon spokesman said last month that officials had taken unspecified “administrative action” in response to the report.

Mahan is still on the job and, judging from an e-mail she sent us over the weekend,  hardly backing down.

“I stand by my responses to the inspector general,” Mahan wrote. “There is no credence to any of the allegations except my momentary and isolated lapse of judgment early in my tenure of accepting help on four occasions from two contractor” historians for her “then pre-school-age son.”

Mahan said she was, at the time, “relatively new” in the job and trying to “be the overly conscientious professional and meet parental obligations as a single parent.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.
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Al Kamen · February 4