Marine Corps general treated aide like a ‘servant,’ IG report found

Marine Corps general treated aide like a ‘servant,’ IG report found
U.S. Government via Wikimedia Commons

The former top U.S. Marine Corps general in Iraq treated his female aide-de-camp like a “servant,” according to a witness cited in an Inspector General’s investigation that concluded the commander violated ethics regulations by routinely asking the officer to pick up his laundry, deliver meals, reserve gym equipment and carry personal items.

In a report released on Thursday, the IG said it substantiated allegations that Brig. Gen. Rick Uribe allowed his aide “to perform activities other than those required in the performance of official duties and that he solicited and accepted gifts from employees who received less pay than himself,” between May 2016 and June 2017.

“The Department of Defense Inspector General … has substantiated allegations against Brig. Gen. Rick A. Uribe, a General Officer currently serving within the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific … chain of command,” the Pentagon said in a statement to CNN. “The Marine Corps takes all allegations of misconduct seriously, and this case is being adjudicated by the chain of command.”

An initial complaint was filed against Brig. Gen. Uribe in June 2017 while he was serving as the Deputy Commanding General for Operations-Baghdad, and Director, Combined Joint Operations Center, Baghdad, Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command, Iraq.

Prescription toothpaste

The IG found that Brig. Gen. Uribe violated the Joint Ethics Regulation when he requested or permitted his aide to use official time to:

Pick up his laundry Remove and turn in his bedsheets for cleaning. Obtain his meals. Provide him with personal items, such as snacks. Draft his unofficial correspondence. Reserve gym equipment for his use. Arrange delivery of his prescription toothpaste to Iraq. Collect financial and personal information to complete required military paperwork.

“I can 100 percent tell you that there were times I thought [the Aide] was his servant,” one of the 23 witnesses interviewed told investigators.

Personal WiFi access

The report also detailed instances in which Brig. Gen. Uribe failed to reimburse a subordinate for personal WiFi access, failed to reimburse an employee for a farewell gift and received chocolates from an employee — substantiating allegations that he accepted or solicited gifts from those who received less pay.

“They teach you this as soon as you put on that first star: the responsibility for observing ethics regulations — and, in particular, the duties performed by aides and personal assistants — falls squarely on the principal, the one wearing the stars,” according to CNN military analyst John Kirby.

“It is inappropriate under any condition, combat or no, to place on an aide’s shoulders the burden of deciding what are — or are not —proper functions for him or her to perform,” he added.

“These aides are often very young, not even at the mid-career point in most cases. Their inclination is to want to accommodate, to succeed, and to help the boss succeed. The boss has to be the one to make clear where the lines are, and to do so vigorously,” Kirby said.

The Inspector General recommended Brig. Gen. Uribe reimburse subordinates for any gifts he received and that his superior take appropriate action regarding his ethics violations.