Boeing fires former Pentagon official involved in tanker lease deal

Boeing Monday announced the dismissal of Darleen Druyun, a former Pentagon acquisition official credited with helping to negotiate a controversial plan to lease Boeing 767 commercial jets to the Air Force for use as aerial refueling tankers.

The company's chief financial officer, Michael Sears, also was dismissed for his role in hiring Druyun to work as vice president and general manager of Boeing's Missile Defense Systems unit, according to a company statement.

Sears is said to have violated company policies by communicating directly and indirectly with Druyun about future employment when she had not disqualified herself from acting in her official Air Force capacity on matters involving Boeing, the company said. In addition, an internally initiated review found both attempted to conceal their misconduct.

"Compelling evidence of this misconduct by Mr. Sears and Ms. Druyun came to light over the last two weeks," Boeing Chairman Philip Condit said. "Upon review of the facts, our board of directors determined that immediate dismissal of both individuals for cause was the appropriate course of action."

Druyun has come under scrutiny recently for her alleged role in Boeing's massive lobbying effort to secure the multi-billion dollar tanker lease. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., a senior Armed Services Committee member and outspoken critic of the deal, obtained from Boeing thousands of internal e-mail exchanges, including some that could implicate Druyun for allegedly mishandling proprietary information belonging to Airbus, Boeing's top European competitor in the global aerospace market.

In addition, Druyun has come under fire in recent media reports that revealed Druyun's daughter worked for Boeing in St. Louis, and that Druyun had sold her house to a Boeing executive in the Washington area.

Boeing has made a concerted effort recently to improve its tarnished credibility on several fronts, including the Druyun allegations and its suspension from bidding on military satellite contracts as a result of unethical business practices. The company has retained former Sen. Warren Rudman, R-N.H., to review Boeing's ethics programs, Condit said in the release, adding that one of Rudman's tasks is to examine Boeing's "procedures and practices on hiring government employees to ensure this type of incident never happens again."

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