Ex-Joint Chiefs staff mem­ber’s ties to con­sul­tant crit­i­cized

USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - FRONT PAGE - Tom Van­den Brook @tvan­den­brook USA TO­DAY

WASH­ING­TON An Army Na­tional Guard gen­eral who worked for the Joint Chiefs of Staff has been fired from his job fol­low­ing an ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fair, and in­ter­views and records show that he had also ne­go­ti­ated a job and lived rent free in the home of a de­fense con­trac­tor, USA TO­DAY has found.

Brig. Gen. Michael Bobeck has been the fo­cus of an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into an ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fair — a vi­o­la­tion of mil­i­tary law — and mis­use of gov­ern­ment re­sources, ac­cord­ing to De­fense Depart­ment of­fi­cials who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they were not au­tho­rized to speak about the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The probe re­mains open, and Bobeck has been re­as­signed pend­ing its out­come.

On Fri­day, the Army also an­nounced the abrupt dis­missal of one of its ris­ing stars, Maj. Gen. Wayne Grigsby, com­man­der of the 1st In­fantry Di­vi­sion at Fort Ri­ley, Kan. Grigsby is the sub­ject of an of­fi­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tion, but the un­usual state­ment does not say why.

Mil­i­tary of­fi­cials did not dis­close Bobeck’s fir­ing, nor did they an­nounce the sack­ing this spring of the so-called swing­ing gen­eral, Maj. Gen. David Haight, whose las­civ­i­ous life­style ended his once-promis­ing ca­reer. They likely would have re­tired qui­etly if their cases had not been dis­cov­ered.

USA TO­DAY found that Bobeck, a dec­o­rated he­li­copter pi­lot who once led the Na­tional Guard’s avi­a­tion pro­grams, lived, but paid no rent, in an apart­ment owned by an ex­ec­u­tive for Pe­duzzi As­so­ciates, Ltd., an Alexan­dria, Va.-based con­sult­ing firm. Pe­duzzi’s avi­a­tion arm sup­ports com­pa­nies “do­ing busi­ness with the Depart­ment of De­fense,” its web­site says.

Bobeck re­jects any sug­ges­tion that he would have abused his mil­i­tary po­si­tion to ben­e­fit him­self or a de­fense con­trac­tor, said his Army lawyer, Lt. Col. Adam Kazin. More­over, Bobeck was in no po­si­tion to award or in­flu­ence con­tracts, Kazin said.

“Any im­pli­ca­tion that there was any wrong­do­ing is very up-

set­ting to him,” Kazin said. “Abus­ing his po­si­tion to en­rich him­self is not in line with how he views him­self.”

Bobeck is co­op­er­at­ing with in­ves­ti­ga­tors and has asked for pri­vacy for his fam­ily, Kazin said.

Pe­duzzi ap­pears on con­gres­sional records as a lob­by­ist for Siko­rsky, a di­vi­sion of de­fense con­trac­tor Lock­heed Martin.

Joe Fer­reira, the Pe­duzzi ex­ec­u­tive who put up Bobeck in a base­ment apart­ment af­ter his di­vorce and talked with him about join­ing the firm, said their friend­ship dates back 35 years. The free ac­com­mo­da­tions had noth­ing to do with his busi­ness, he said. Bobeck lived in the small, fur­nished base­ment apart­ment af­ter Bobeck di­vorced his wife, Fer­reira said.

“I be­lieve this is what friends do for friends,” Fer­reira said in an email.

Not nec­es­sar­ily so in the world of uni­formed gen­eral of­fi­cers and con­trac­tors, ac­cord­ing to a gov­ern­ment watch­dog. Scott Amey, gen­eral coun­sel for the non-par­ti­san Project On Gov­ern­ment Over­sight, said that when job ne­go­ti­a­tions be­gan be­tween Bobeck and Pe­duzzi, the of­fi­cer needed to avoid any deal­ings that af­fected the com­pany and the gov­ern­ment. At min­i­mum, Bobeck needed to seek ad­vice on the ethics of ac­cept­ing gifts, par­tic­u­larly liv­ing quar­ters.

“This raises a num­ber of red flags,” Amey said. “The job of­fer opens another can of worms. He should have re­cused him­self from any mat­ter the com­pany had an in­ter­est in.”

The job dis­cus­sions date to 2013, Fer­reira said, a par­tic­u­larly sen­si­tive time for the Na­tional Guard, which has been bat­tling with the ac­tive-duty Army over the di­vi­sion of he­li­copters as the ser­vice be­gan to draw down its ranks to 450,000 sol­diers by 2018.

From De­cem­ber 2010 to March 2013, Bobeck was chief of Army Na­tional Guard Avi­a­tion for the Na­tional Guard Bu­reau. He went on to be­come spe­cial as­sis­tant to the bu­reau’s di­rec­tor for avi­a­tion trans­for­ma­tion in 2014 and 2015.

Bobeck was re­lieved and re­as­signed to the Army on La­bor Day, said Navy Capt. Greg Hicks, spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Army handed Bobeck back to the Na­tional Guard Bu­reau, where he is as­signed as a full-time, ac­tive-duty of­fi­cer, said Col. Les Mel­nyk, a Na­tional Guard Bu­reau spokesman.

Bobeck re­tains his se­cu­rity clear­ance, Mel­nyk said.

Michael Bobeck

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