Elon Musk Suspects One of His Rivals of Corruption

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk went on Twitter (TWTR) to suggest that one of his rivals won a no-bid defense contract because of corruption. He alleges Aerojet Rocketdyne, a unit of GenCorp Inc. Rocketdyne, hired a former US Air Force acquisitions official in return for a big contract.

The 42-year-old billionaire is referring to a story on the ‘National Legal and Policy Center’ [NLPC]  website about Pentagon’s former high-ranking Air Force program officer Roger “Scott” Correll, who was responsible for procuring launch services from private companies.

Musk says that Aerojet Rocketdyne, which supplies rocket engines to United Launch Alliance [ULA] — a joint venture between government-contracting heavyweights Boeing Co.  (BA) and Lockheed Martin (LMT) — hired Correll in May. One of Correll’s last official acts before ‘retiring’ in January was to award a massive contract for 36 future space rocket launches without any competition to ULA.

But Correll didn’t exactly retire. In fact, after leaving Pentagon he ended up as Rocketdyne’s Vice President for Government Acquisition and Policy, which as NLPC  notes, is “seemingly more than befitting of his role.”

In a tweet Thursday, Musk wrote, “V likely AF official Correll was told by ULA/Rocketdyne that a rich VP job was his if he gave them a sole source contract.”

In a subsequent tweet, Musk wrote: “Reason I believe this is likely is that Correll first tried to work at SpaceX, but we turned him down. Our competitor, it seems, did not.”

In an other tweet Musk, who’s also CEO of Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA), called for action, saying “Either way, this case certainly deserves close examination by the DoD Inspector General per @SenJohnMcCain’s request”.

Aerojet Rocketdyne denied Musk’s accusations, calling them “completely without merit.”

“We’re confident of the process that we followed in hiring Mr. Correll,” Glenn Mahone, Rocketdyne’s spokesman said in a phone interview with the LA Times.

Correll received “the necessary clearances and approvals” from the Defense Department, Mahone said. “His duties and actions on behalf of Aerojet Rocketdyne are consistent with those clearances and approvals.”

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