Harry Stonecipher’s “office affair” curse strikes again as CIA, Lockheed Martin and maybe US Army lose out (Updated)

by | Nov 13, 2012 | commercial launch services, History | 8 comments

It has been announced that Christopher Kubasic who was to become CEO of Lockheed Martin in January has resigned from the company after having an affair with a subordinate employee of the firm. The affair was in breach of the firm’s ethics code.   The current CEO Robert Stevens said that Kubasic, who is currently Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the firm will now be replaced by Marilyn Hewson who was originally to have replaced him as COO and will now make the further jump to CEO.

The resignation is just the latest example of high executives being forced to resign over an affair.  This month, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), General David Petraeus,60, was forced to resign after an FBI investigation found that he had been having an extra-marital affair with his biographer.Paula Broadwell, 40.   If it is discovered that this affair was started while he was still serving in the US Army, Patraeus may yet face legal action as adultery is technically in breach of US Army law. 

The resignations may not end there. Broadwell herself is alleged to have sent abusive e-mails to socialite Jill Kelly, 37, warning her off Patraeus.  While Kelly denies any romantic invovement with him it was she who actually exposed the Patreaus-Broadwell affair. Also involved is General John Allen who took over from Patraeus to lead US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.  He is alleged to have sent thousands of personal e-mails to Kelly and is accused of having a close relationship with her. 

These recent resignations over affairs have the precedent of Harry Stonecipher who was forced to resign as CEO of Boeing in March 2005 after his own office extra-marital love affair was discovered.  Stonecipher, a former CEO of McDonnell Douglas, had originally be appointed as CEO of the Boeing firm in December 2003 to introduce a new company ethics policy after the firm had been banned from future US Air Force contracts. after being found to have illegally received confidential information related to the pricing of competitors’ launch vehicles.   Unfortunately, having fixed the Boeing Company’s own ethics, Stonecipher was soon “hoisted by his own petard” when he admitted to having consensual close personal relationship with one of the firm’s employees.  Even though technically he had not been in breach of the firm’s rules, Stonecipher, then aged 68, who, by the way also launched the Boeing 787 programme, was forced to resign from Boeing as the extramarital affair was deemed to be “improper”.

It is not just high echelons of company managements that can be affected by such affairs.  A similar “office love affair” between astronaut and US Navy flyer William Oefelein and astronaut and fellow US Navy officer Lisa Nowak (which later led to a minor assault on a love rival by Nowak and a subsequent court conviction in 2007) caused their “less than honorable” departures from NASA, and later from the US Navy. Subsequent to the case NASA brought in its own code of conduct.

Update (Jan 2013):   General John Allen has been formally cleared of misconduct by the Pentagon for emails sent to the Florida socialite, Jill Kelley.  Having said that, Stonecipher’s curse seems to be affecting aircraft as well.  The Boeing 787, which was conceived under his leadership, has was grounded after concerns about battery overheating.

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