Joseph E. Schmitz
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|Joseph E. Schmitz|
|Department of Defense Inspector General|
March 21, 2002 – September 9, 2005
|President||George W. Bush|
|Preceded by||Eleanor J. Hill|
|Succeeded by||Claude M. Kicklighter|
Joseph Edward Schmitz|
August 28, 1956 (age 62)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
|Alma mater||Stanford University|
|Service/branch||United States Navy|
Joseph Edward Schmitz (born August 28, 1956) is an American lawyer, former inspector general of the United States Department of Defense and a former executive with Blackwater Worldwide. After working as a watchdog at the Pentagon for three and a half years, Schmitz resigned to return to the private sector. Although allegations questioning his stewardship of the inspector general's office surfaced nine months after his resignation, a high-level review board, the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency, cleared him of all wrongdoing in 2006. He was named one of Donald Trump's foreign policy advisors for his 2016 presidential campaign.
Schmitz was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of John G. Schmitz, former California State Senator, member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and U.S. presidential candidate in 1972. Schmitz attended Catholic schools as a child and Georgetown Preparatory School for high school while his father served in Congress. He holds a Bachelor of Science (1978) from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland where he was on the wrestling team and a Juris Doctor (1986) from Stanford University. His three siblings include Mary Kay Letourneau, Jerome Schmitz and John Schmitz.
Upon graduation from the Naval Academy, Schmitz served in the U.S. Navy for approximately four years, including a stint as an exchange officer with the German Navy. After leaving active duty, Schmitz went to law school and was in the Naval Reserve until 2001. He clerked with James L. Buckley, Circuit Judge for the D.C. Circuit Court and was a special assistant to Attorney General Edwin Meese III during the Reagan Administration. Schmitz entered the private sector in 1987, eventually joining the Patton Boggs law firm in Washington, D.C. He was also an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University in the 1990s and founded his own firm, Joseph E. Schmitz, PLLC, in 2008.
Schmitz writes a column titled "Support and Defend" for the media organization Newsmax. He co-founded the law firm Schmitz & Socarras LLP  in 2014 and serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors for CharityEngine, a McLean, Virginia-based software company.
Inspector General of the Department of Defense
Schmitz was nominated by President George W. Bush to be Defense Department Inspector General on June 18, 2001. His nomination was held up in the Senate Armed Services Committee for unknown reasons until March 21, 2002, when he was confirmed by the full Senate by voice vote. One of his first actions as Inspector General was to hire controversial Republican operative L. Jean Lewis as his chief of staff.
Various senior officials in the Defense Department stated that Schmitz had an enduring fascination with Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, having personally redesigned the Defense Department Inspector General's seal to incorporate the Von Steuben family motto. Schmitz's association with the Germany journalist Henning Von Steuben, the leader of the Von Steuben Family Association, attracted the criticism of Senator Chuck Grassley, who stated that Schmitz had "feted Von Steuben at an $800 meal allegedly paid for by public funds." In 2005, Schmitz canceled a planned $200,000 trip to Germany "to attend a ceremony at a Von Steuben statue" after Grassley questioned the expenditure.
Allegations and resignation
Senator Charles Grassley published numerous allegations against Schmitz toward the end of his almost four-year tenure. All of Grassley's allegations were investigated by an independent Office of inspector general under the auspices of the Integrity Committee of the President's Council on Integrity & Efficiency (PCIE), which on October 19, 2006, "concluded that there was no wrongdoing."
Schmitz resigned as inspector general of the Defense Department in September 2005 in the wake of new allegations that he intervened to obstruct the FBI investigation of fellow Bush appointee to the Department of Defense Jack Shaw in relation to contracting improprieties in Iraq for which Shaw was fired in December 2004. The allegations also included interference in the investigation of Mary Walker's role in the Torture Memos scandal and Schmitz's redaction of an investigative report on Boeing to remove the names of White House officials before sending it to Congress.
In addition to questions regarding Schmitz's independence from the White House, Grassley submitted complaints that Schmitz had accepted a trip to South Korea paid for by a former lobbying client and similarly obtained eight tickets to a Washington Nationals baseball game.
After resigning, Schmitz took a position with the Prince Group, a holding company for Blackwater Worldwide, which provides security services and training to the U.S. military in Iraq and elsewhere.
- Blackwater Worldwide
- Janet Rehnquist, former Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services
- Scott Bloch, United States Office of Special Counsel
- Robert W. Cobb, NASA Inspector General
- Howard Krongard, Inspector General of the United States Department of State
- Erik Prince, founder and CEO of Blackwater Worldwide, Inc.
- Jeff Stein (21 March 2016). "Joseph Schmitz, Donald Trump's foreign policy adviser, left the Pentagon amid controversy". Newsweek.
- Missy Ryan; Steven Mufson (March 22, 2016). "One of Trump's foreign policy advisers is a 2009 college grad who lists Model UN as a credential". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2 June 2017.
- U.S. Congress. Senate. Committee on Armed Services, Nominations before the Senate Armed Services Committee, first session, 107th Congress, 1616
- "Joseph E. Schmitz". www.nndb.com.
- Scahill, Blackwater, 303.
- "Sands-llp.com". Jespllc.com.
- WorldSecurityNetwork.com Archived 2007-10-13 at the Wayback Machine.
- Sharia: The Threat To America, Center for Security Policy, October 2010
- Schmitz, Joseph, E. "Support and Defend". Newsmax. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
- "Sands-llp.com". Sands-llp.com.
- "Pentagon Iraq War Intel 'Not Illegal': Questions About DoD Inspector General's Flawed Report", Daily Kos, February 9, 2007
- T. Christian Miller, The Scrutinizer Finds Himself Under Scrutiny, Los Angeles Times, September 25, 2005
- Executive Council on Integrity and Efficiency, "Letter to Joseph E. Schmitz", Pogoarchives.org, October 23, 2006
- PCIE Integrity Committee Fax to PCIE Chairman, October 19, 2006. See also, "Corrections," The Washington Post, p. A02, November 20, 2010 (clarifying that its prior article about Inspector General Schmitz, "failed to state that Schmitz was exonerated of any wrongdoing by the Integrity Committee of the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency in 2006").
- T. Christian Miller, "Pentagon Investigator Resigning", Los Angeles Times, September 3, 2005
- T. Christian Miller, "Pentagon Ousts Official Under FBI Investigation", Los Angeles Times, December 11, 2004
- Congressional Record of the 109th Congress, First Session, No. 122, page 35, U.S. Government Printing Office, September 27, 2005,
- "Blackwaters Top Brass". The Virginian-Pilot. July 24, 2006.
- "Private Group Sough to Arm Syrian Rebels". The Wall Street Journal.
- Miller, T. Christian. (2006). Blood Money: Wasted Billions, Lost Lives, and Corporate Greed in Iraq. New York: Little, Brown and Company. See pages 68–69.
- Scahill, Jeremy. (2007). Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army. New York: Nation Books. See Chapter Seventeen: "Joseph Schmitz: Christian Soldier."
- "US: Pentagon's Top Watchdog Resigned Amid Claims of Stonewalling Inquiries," T. Christian Miller, Los Angeles Times, September 3, 2005
- "How Many More Mike Browns Are Out There?," Mark Thompson, Karen Tumulty, Time Magazine, October 3, 2005
- "No FBI Charges for Defense Official in Iraq Case," T. Christian Miller, Los Angeles Times, October 15, 2005.
- "Tanker Inquiry Finds Rumsfeld's Attention Was Elsewhere," R. Jeffrey Smith, Washington Post, June 20, 2006
- "Donald Trump's Top Foreign Adviser, Joseph Schmitz, is a Former Blackwater Executive," Democracy Now!, March 25, 2016
- Appearances on C-SPAN