Boeing Out, Raytheon In: Shanahan Quits as Acting SecDef

Former Raytheon VP Esper considered a 'top corporate lobbyist'

In a sudden juggle of positions that came relatively out of nowhere, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced on Tuesday that he is withdrawing himself from consideration for the position. This move came following the emergence of a 2010 domestic violence incident involving Shanahan and his family, with Shanahan not wanting to see this rehashed during a confirmation hearing.

Shanahan had a long career at Boeing, rising to a vice president of the major US armsmaker before taking up with the Trump Administration as a Deputy Defense Secretary, and later Acting Defense Secretary.

Which is not to say that the politically powerful arms industry is losing the post, as it has been announced that Mark Esper, himself a former vice president for Raytheon, will be taking over the post. Esper was previously Secretary of the Army.

And while media reports emphasize Esper’s service in the military in the 1990s, his rise to prominence came after, with Raytheon, where he rose to vice president of government relations. He was also twice named, in 2015 and 2016, as one of the most powerful corporate lobbyists in DC.

There is no reason to expect the transition from Shanahan to Esper will portend and major US policy changes, though it is likely to portend more sales growth for Raytheon that the man who was only too recently responsible for getting those sales approved by the Pentagon will now be running the show.

At the same time, it’s likely to raise questions about the firm’s undue power in the administration,coming just weeks after State Department official Charles Faulkner, another former Raytheon lobbyist, was sacked for his direct involvement in pushing through Raytheon arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of