Trump Nominates Another Defense-Industry Insider as Pentagon Chief

After the abrupt resignation of Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan last week, President Donald Trump nominated Army Secretary Mark Esper to head the Defense Department.

Shanahan’s tenure was marked by serious questions about his ties to Boeing, where he had worked for more than three decades. But Esper, who worked for defense contractor Raytheon for seven years before joining the administration in 2017, brings his own industry baggage to the role of Pentagon chief.

Lobbying disclosure forms for the first three quarters of 2017 — just before he assumed office in November of that year as secretary of the army — show that Esper lobbied a dozen federal agencies and offices, including the Defense Department and two of its sub-agencies. Last week, Politico pointed out that Esper would likely need to recuse himself from talks with Turkey about the purchase of a Raytheon defense system. 

Esper’s years working for one of the country’s largest weapons manufacturers raises concerns about matters that he may have influenced or could influence during his time at the Army and the Defense Department. American Oversight has filed Freedom of Information Act requests seeking Esper’s recusal determinations and ethics waivers, as well as his calendars. We also filed a set of FOIA requests for any communications agencies had with him while he was lobbying for Raytheon.

Part of Investigation: