A Marine Corps general is in the hot seat for ordering his personal aide to run mundane errands for him on official time, including picking up his dry cleaning, laundry and "snacks," according to a government watchdog report.
The report from the Pentagon's Inspector General says it investigated Brigadier General Rick Uribe after receiving a hotline tip alleging the misuse of the unidentified aide as well as other claims. After conducting nearly two dozen interviews and reading thousands of emails and other documents, investigators found the allegation about the aide was substantiated, as well as another concerning Uribe's receiving gifts of chocolate and coffee.
The aide also used official time to send someone "customized t-shirts" on behalf of the general, reserve his gym equipment, draft his unofficial correspondence and "arrange delivery of BGen Uribe's prescription toothpaste to Iraq." Uribe, who was previously the Marine Corps Inspector General and became a brigadier general in 2016, served as the highest ranking Marine Corps officer in Iraq when he was deployed there that year.
"BGen Uribe showed a habitual pattern of requesting, or permitting, his Aide to use official time to perform tasks and errands for BGen Uribe other than those required in the performance of the Aide’s official duties," the report says. "BGen Uribe was responsible for the Aide’s proper use of official time."
In a letter to the IG, which was included in the report, Uribe said that he was simply unaware that his requests of the aide were improper.
"I was a frocked brigadier general who had never had an aide and had not received any instruction or guidance beyond a few general slides about the use of aides," he purportedly wrote.
Uribe also suggested his official duties simply kept him too busy. "He was personally involved in the deployment and execution of every ISF [Iraqi Security Forces] operation. He told us that his typical duty day was from 6 a.m. until midnight, but sometimes he could depart at 10 p.m.," the report says. Uribe is quoting as saying that he had a "full day every day." (The IG noted that Uribe's predecessor, Maj. Gen. William Mullen, had the "exact same" duties but did not use his aide for personal errands.)
The IG acknowledged that the use of personal aides is a gray area, but said Uribe still should have been "familiar with Navy and Marine Corps standards and informal guidance for ethical use of officer aides," including 2016 guidance from the Navy that said, "As a general rule, flag aides may not... perform unofficial personal tasks, even if doing so would give the flag officer more time to focus on official business."
Primary Source: IG Report on Brig. Gen. Rick Uribe (DOD.mil)
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