Pentagon spokeswoman Dana W. White is under investigation by the Defense Department Office of Inspector General, CNN reports, for allegedly having staff help her with personal paperwork and make laundry and drug store runs. It’s alleged that when staffers complained, she had them transferred, the report says.
White, appointed by Pres. Donald Trump, is Defense Secretary James Mattis’ most senior civilian adviser. CNN reports the investigation has been under way for several weeks. It’s not clear from the news report if the investigation has concluded given it’s said White “has not been found in violation of any federal regulation or policy at this point.” There was no comment from the inspector general. White didn’t return CNN’s request for comment and another spokesperson from the Pentagon said the “review” is ongoing and would not comment, it was reported. White, who reports to Mattis, was brought on board at the Pentagon in April of 2017.
Her résumé is notable with powerful, highly-skilled and highly-placed influential posts that span the globe over two decades.
Here’s what you need to know about White:
1. As Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, White’s Role at the Pentagon is a Powerful One & She Oversees Thousands of Employees
Mattis’ “principal staff assistant and advisor,” White is the Deputy Secretary of Defense for communications, news media relations, public outreach, engagement, public affairs and visual information and serves as chief spokesperson for both the DoD and Mattis. Her job as the communications policy lead for DoD means she “provides departmental guidance to the U.S. Armed Services and Combatant Command Chiefs of Public Affairs as well as more than 4,500 public affairs personnel worldwide.”
White has a huge job. She also “directly oversees the Defense Media Activity, an organization of approximately 2,000 personnel which provides a wide variety of multi-media information products to more than one million U.S service members, civilian employees, and their families.”
White is in charge of more than 6,500 people. And ethics rules prohibit her from asking an employee to do anything other than official work. Picking up her dry cleaning and going to the pharmacy are likely not considered official tasks.
2. It’s Reported White Had Employees Drive Her to Work When it Snowed, Buy Her Pantyhose, Fetch Snacks, Do Personal Paperwork & Make her Hair & Make-Up Appointments
It will be up to Mattis what happens after the inspector general makes it’s recommendations. The violations are administrative in nature. It’s reported that once the complaints were mounting, by May, her requests had stopped. She also then stopped regular press, it was reported. CNN also reports that White asked to see the ethics rules to “so she could stay within the Pentagon’s guidelines.” CNN says Mattis was unaware of White’s alleged violations.
As the investigation hit the news, White posted that she and Mattis had landed in Buenos Aires.
CNN reported that the employee who drove her in bad weather was “reimbursed” for mileage. White also allegedly had both civilian and military staff “work on her mortgage application and other personal financial paperwork, and arrange her personal leisure travel.”
And, staff made “numerous appointments with her personal hair and makeup artist, whose services she paid for herself, to come to her home and Pentagon office,” it’s alleged.
3. White, Who Wrote a Book on Leadership, Comes From an African-American Family of ‘Firsts’
Born in Charlottesville, her parents met and married at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Her paternal grandfather served in World War I and became the first black man in her hometown to lead a department at the University of Virginia Hospital. He would go on to be the owner and publisher of Charlottesville’s only black newspaper. Her paternal grandmother was the first black registered nurse hired at UVA Hospital. Her maternal grandmother was one of the first blacks to earn a civil servant position in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The legacy of the slave, Dana’s great grandmother was a sharecropper from Sylvester, Georgia, raised on the same land her grandparents had been slaves.
Her book, influenced she says by her grandfather, helps readers to “live a life of adventure, personal growth, and achievement-and encourage others to do the same-with lessons learned in ‘Leader Designed.'”
An Amazon reviewer said they were “intrigued” by her book, ‘Leader Designed.’
“It is a really interesting read about an American family and how parents really are the quintessential leaders– an idea that really hit home with me. I like how the author chronicles life through a number of political and historical events and what she learned along the way. She tells how she succeeded even in the most male-dominated industries,” the reviewer wrote.
White “weaves a humorous and compelling narrative of her life and career from small-town Virginia to the marble halls of Capitol Hill, the skyscrapers of Hong Kong, and the quarters of Paris, France,” the book blurb on Google Books reads.
4. White, a Republican & Conservative Commentator, Was an Advisor to Sen. John McCain and Sarah Palin
White worked for Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska during he 2008 presidential election as a foreign policy advisor.
“I advised presidential and vice presidential candidate on foreign policy issues, provided briefings, talking points and met with Washington diplomat community on the candidates positions on a variety of foreign policy challenges,” she wrote in her bio.
White says she is a regular panelist on PBS’s ‘To the Contrary’ with Bonnie Erbe. She’s written for Gannett, Knight-Ridder, BET News, the Fox News Channel, and The Washington Post. And, White was an editorial writer and culture page editor for the Wall Street Journal
5. White’s Curriculum Vitae is August & Consequential With High-Profile Positions in Paris & Washington DC
According to her LinkedIn and official biography from the Department of Defense, White, a University of Chicago graduate, the only black student to earn an undergraduate degree in Chinese history, who also studied at universities in South Korea and China, began her career in 1998 as deputy press secretary at the House Republican Conference, worked at Fox as a publicist, was director of-Asia Pacific press for the Heritage Foundation, and she worked as the Taiwan Country relations director for the Department of Defense.
White did policy and strategic communications for the Renault-Nissan Alliance in Paris from 2012 to 2015.
She was a manager at Northup Grumman Aerospace who “worked with campaign leads to craft their proposals and rebuttals to Members of Congress and their staff. I provided legislative guidance to the VP of business development on the National Defense Authorization Act and the associated appropriations legislation,” she wrote on her LinkedIn.
White founded her own consulting firm, 1055 Grady, which her LinkedIn says, “focuses on developing senior leaders, including CEOs, elected officials, political appointees, and political candidates. We take a holistic approach to address the specific needs and goals of our clients, to include enhancing their ability to communicate their vision to internal and external audiences.We work one-on-one with clients to develop a strategy to showcase their talents, motivate their teams and foster greater loyalty, job satisfaction and productivity among their employees.”
According to her curriculum vitae, she presently works at the firm.