USA Today on Tuesday published a profile on a Colorado-based company called the Durango Group — founded by a retired Air Force general living in the Southwest Colorado city — that specializes in brokering deals between the Pentagon and defense contractors.
The paper’s investigation found that the Durango Group employs more Defense Department military “mentors” than any other private consulting firm – a troubling revelation for some critics who claim the retired officers have an inherent conflict of interest in working for both private defense contractors and the public interest.
“That is an amazing conflict of interest,” Craig Holman of the non-partisan watchdog group Public Citizen told USA Today. “They are working for two masters. Are they pursuing the public interest, or are they pursuing the contractors’ interests? … The conflict of interest law ought to be expanded to cover this.”
According to the Durango Herald, Ronald Fogleman, a retired U.S. Air Force four-star general living in Durango, founded the Durango Group. The paper reported Fogleman could not be reached for comment.
Here’s more on the group from the USA Today story:
“The Colorado-based firm has become a base of operations for retired officers who also are handsomely paid by the military for their advice. No other defense consulting firm employs more ‘senior mentors’ than Durango. Of the 59 former officers who work for Durango, 15 also serve as mentors.
“As Durango associates, the retired officers are paid to help private companies win and administer Pentagon contracts. As mentors, the retirees are paid by the military to help run war games, which also gives them access to classified strategies and weapons systems. Durango cites these mentoring assignments on its website as signs of its associates’ unique connections.
“Along with their work for Durango and the military, these retired officers, mostly from the Air Force, are paid advisers, consultants and corporate directors on the boards of at least 20 companies, according to public records. Three of them work for private equity firms to help them identify, buy and then run defense contractors.
“Durango’s ability to mix mentoring and consulting work illustrates how closely the private interests of some mentors overlap with their military advisory jobs. The firms’ mentors move seamlessly between roles as paid advisers to the services and paid consultants to defense companies in the same subject areas.”