Ex-Generals Cash in as Gov't 'Mentors'

They collect millions... while also working for defense contractors
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 18, 2009 11:59 AM CST
Ex-Generals Cash in as Gov't 'Mentors'
Retired general Anthony Zinni speaks to reporters, Sunday Nov. 25, 2007 in Washington. Zinni is both a highly paid government defense consultant, and chairman of BAE Systems.   (AP Photo/CBS News, Karin Cooper)

If you’re a general unhappy with your measly six-figure salary, just retire; the Pentagon will pay you millions to come back and consult, even if you’re also drawing a paycheck from a defense contractor. At least 158 retired admirals and generals are now on the Pentagon payroll as “senior mentors,” making $200 to $340 an hour—and 80% of them have financial ties to, and in some cases, better-paying gigs with, defense contractors as well, according to a USA Today investigation.

As outside consultants, the retirees aren’t subject to government ethics rules, meaning they needn’t tell the Pentagon or anyone else who they’re working for. “This setup invites abuse,” says one contracting expert. “Everyone in this story is fat and happy. Everyone, of course, except the public.” One Marine general acknowledges that the mentors probably use their inside edge to help their companies, but says it’s unavoidable, unless the military wants to hire “amateurs.” (More defense contractors stories.)

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