A top United States senator concerned about government corruption is urging the Pentagon inspector general to reopen an investigation into allegations that a former top defense official committed ethical misconduct in connection with a multibillion-dollar defense contract, citing new evidence.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, is requesting that the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General (DOD OIG) reopen its investigation, according to a report by Breitbart News.
The investigation alleged that a former DOD official, Sally Donnelly, failed to disclose a potential conflict of interest to the DOD OIG when it was investigating allegations of ethical misconduct involving a contract involving billions of dollars in American taxpayer money.
The DOD OIG published its final report on April 13, 2020, which said, “We determined that Ms. Donnelly did not violate any ethical agreements and obligations regarding Office of Government Ethics financial disclosures, [and] did not give preferential treatment to Amazon officials or restrict access to Secretary Mattis for other industry leaders.”
Grassley, on the other hand, claims Donnelly failed to disclose to the DOD OIG who purchased her consulting firm just prior to beginning her employment at the DOD, which he claims was relevant to the DOD OIG's investigation and could have influenced its findings.
On October 24, 2022, Grassley wrote to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and DOD Inspector General Sean O'Donnell, requesting that the investigation be reopened:
The American people must have confidence that their government isn’t plagued by conflicts of interest and that the decisions made by government officials are done for the people and their best interests, not the financial interests of government officials.
Grassley presented the new evidence in his letter dated October 24, 2022. According to publicly available financial disclosure forms, Donnelly sold her consulting firm SBD Advisors shortly before joining the DOD in 2017.
Donnelly, on the other hand, never revealed who had purchased her firm on her forms or in public reporting. According to Grassley, Donnelly never told the DOD OIG who bought her firm.
Grassley discovered that the DOD OIG only had a copy of the Purchase and Sale Agreement for Donnelly's company with the identity of the purchaser's name redacted, and that the DOD OIG had argued to him that the identity of the purchaser was not relevant to their investigation.
Grassley stated that in October 2022, long after the DOD OIG concluded its investigation, he obtained an unredacted copy of the Purchase and Sale Agreement, which revealed that an entity called VMAP Investor, LLC (VMAP) had purchased her firm. The initials "AP" in VMAP are those of its co-founder, Andre Pienaar.
Grassley contended that this was relevant to the DOD OIG's investigation. Pienaar is not only the CEO and founder of C5 Capital, one of Donnelly's clients, but he was also dating — and later married — Teresa Carlson, the Amazon Web Services executive in charge of the company's bid for the lucrative defense contract, at the time.
According to Grassley, while Donnelly was at the DOD, VMAP would make several $390,000 payments to her for the purchase of her company. Grassley added:
Based on information collected for this investigation, the DoD OIG’s conclusion concerning Ms. Donnelly’s lack of financial connection to C5 appears to be inaccurate. Indeed, two senior C5 officials, including the founder of C5 Capital, were involved in the purchase of SBD Advisors LLC–connections that existed while Donnelly was at DoD and received payments from the sale of her company.