Complaint Origin and Allegations
The DoD Hotline received complaints from January 14 through September 14, 2020, against Brigadier General (BG) Jonathan E. Howerton, U.S. Army, Deputy Assistant to the President and White House Military Office (WHMO) Director, and Mr. Bradley T. Hoagland, Senior Executive Service, Special Assistant to the President and WHMO Deputy Director. We received three of the complaints after we began our investigation on February 6, 2020. In summary, the complaints alleged:
- BG Howerton and Mr. Hoagland participated in and encouraged a toxic, hostile, and sexually harassing environment, including “derogatory and foul or vulgar language directed toward women”;
- BG Howerton failed to follow travel regulations when he directed personnel to use specific airlines for his official travel and when he failed to use his Government travel charge card (GTCC) for official travel expenses; and
- BG Howerton engaged in other alleged misconduct including conduct unbecoming an officer, improperly directing a subordinate to obtain an autopsy report, and improperly granting a qualification waiver for a Service member’s assignment to the WHMO.
This investigation was delayed from February 2020 to February 2021 due to discussions between the White House Counsel’s Office, the DoD Office of General Counsel, and the DoD Office of Inspector General regarding interview protocols, document production, and the scope of investigation.
Brigadier General Jonathan Howerton, U.S. Army
We concluded, through our review of witness statements, e-mails, photographs, and documents, that BG Howerton pervasively used vulgar language and gestures, as well as showed a lack of respect for a small number of subordinates. We also concluded that the use of non-contract airfare without appropriate justification was inconsistent with the Joint Travel Regulations, resulting in an extra $1,866 cost to the Government. Due to BG Howerton’s assertion that White House operational concerns prevented him from providing a justification and from answering our questions regarding his flights, we are unable to determine by a preponderance of the evidence whether BG Howerton is personally responsible for the failure to comply with the Joint Travel Regulations. In addition, we concluded that BG Howerton violated travel charge card regulations when he failed to use his GTCC for multiple charges during official travel, totaling $3,198.61, during five separate trips during a 6‑month period. Regarding the other allegations of misconduct against BG Howerton, we determined that the evidence did not support some of the allegations and, for the remaining allegations, that the other alleged conduct did not violate a standard.
We provided BG Howerton our tentative conclusions on September 6, 2022, for his review and comment before finalizing our report. BG Howerton disagreed with our conclusions that he pervasively used vulgar language and gestures and showed a lack of respect for a small number of subordinates, and that he violated travel charge card regulations when he failed to use his GTCC during official travel. We carefully considered BG Howerton’s comments regarding our preliminary conclusions, re‑examined our evidence, and included his comments, in part, where appropriate in this report. After considering BG Howerton’s response and re-examining our evidence, we stand by our conclusions.
We recommend that the Secretary of the Army take appropriate action regarding BG Howerton, including determining whether the substantiated allegations constitute a failure to exhibit exemplary conduct and leadership. We also recommend that the Executive Secretary, Office of the Secretary of Defense, examine the process of subordinates reviewing and approving the WHMO Director and Deputy Director travel authorizations and vouchers and consider appointing a separate alternate reviewer and approval authority from outside of the WHMO.
Mr. Bradley Hoagland
We concluded, through our review of witness statements, e-mails, photographs, and documents, that while some of Mr. Hoagland’s actions could be considered unprofessional, such as occasional use of vulgar language and gestures, such conduct was infrequent. While his actions had some negative impact on the organizational climate, we concluded that Mr. Hoagland’s actions did not constitute misconduct.
We make no recommendations regarding Mr. Hoagland.