The deputy commander of U.S. Pacific Command wasted government resources when he conducted "predominantly personal travel" to Alabama for his promotion ceremony in June 2014 instead of holding it in Hawaii, the Department of Defense inspector general found.
In order to secure an official purpose and therefore government funding for travel to Fort Rucker, Alabama, Lt. Gen. Anthony Crutchfield's staff solicited an invitation to speak at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama near Fort Rucker as his nomination as deputy commander proceeded, the investigation concluded.
Crutchfield's promotion was held June 6, 2014, at Fort Rucker, his desired location, the inspector general's office said.
"We recommend the secretary of the Army consider appropriate corrective action with regard to Lt. Gen. Crutchfield," it said in a June 15, 2015, memo. It released the report last week on its website.
Crutchfield rebutted the allegations, which started with an anonymous complaint that he "invented a way to get a free plane ticket" to travel to Fort Rucker, according to documents. He had at one time commanded Fort Rucker.
"My reputation speaks volumes on this matter," Crutchfield said in an April 2015 response. "I do what is legal, ethical, and in accordance with current regulations, policies and practices regarding the use of government resources and official travel."
Crutchfield remains on the job at Camp H.M. Smith. How the Army reacted to the allegations is unclear.
In 2015, Crutchfield said the inspector general's conclusion was "false, not supported by evidence, and uses statements of what the anonymous complainant 'thinks' was actually the purpose of my travel." He said he conducted the travel in his official capacity, attended bona fide activities as the main purpose and "had a legal opinion of all the activities on my itinerary."
Lt. Col. Derrick Cheng, a spokesman for U.S. Pacific Command, said Monday that the level of coordination and legal advice that Crutchfield sought was "significant."
"Beginning in February 2014, Lt. Gen. Crutchfield requested advice from our legal office regarding potential travel to Maxwell Air Force Base and Fort Rucker in Alabama, and Washington, D.C. The legal office provided advice on all aspects of the travel and had no legal objection," Cheng said in an email.
Crutchfield "followed the advice of our lawyers to the letter," Cheng said.
Crutchfield said in the investigation that in April 2014 he began to plan the trip, "and I wanted to bundle several of the engagements together."
He said he decided to go to Huntsville, Alabama, for an invited Army Materiel Command visit, to speak by invitation at Maxwell Air Force Base and subsequently travel to the Pentagon. The Army Materiel Command visit was canceled, but Crutchfield met with soldiers and officials at Fort Rucker.
But the inspector general's office found that Crutchfield's speaking engagements at Maxwell Air Force Base and Fort Rucker "were only remotely and incidentally associated with his travel to Alabama."
It said travel to Washington, D.C., on the same trip was indeed for official purpose. The 11-day "temporary duty" trip cost $3,821, not including a rental car and travel expenses for Crutchfield's aides, the inspector general's office said.
The day after Crutchfield's nomination was forwarded to the Senate on Feb. 5, 2014, his staff contacted the Squadron Officer School at Maxwell Air Force Base and requested an invitation for him to speak June 3 to 5 -- just prior to his promotion, the inspector general's office said.
In early 2013 the school invited Crutchfield to speak, but his staff declined, according to the inspector general's office. Crutchfield said the inspector general's office mischaracterized his visit in 2014 because he had an open invitation to speak there.
This article was written by William Cole from The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.