GENERAL'S AFFAIR GROUNDS CAREER
Ex-Joint Chiefs staff member’s ties to consultant criticized
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.