Did top Pentagon official create imaginary LLC to pad resume?
Firm Pentagon claimed aide ‘served with’ doesnt exist, Florida Dept. of State tells Raw Story
UPDATE: While no “Bones Theory Group” exists in Florida, Raw Story has learned that an LLC named “Bones Theory Group” was incorporated in Baltimore, Maryland on Mar. 16, 2009 under the name “PAUL W. GARDNER, II, ESQ” – the lawyer who named Jones as a client and is representing the couple that crashed the White House state dinner.
The Maryland Public Records database KnowX says the group is still active but lists no affiliation to Michele S. Jones.
It does, however, list the corporate address as 10 Calvert St., Baltimore, Maryland — the exact same address as Gardner’s law firm. The records show that the company was registered just months before Jones was appointed as a special assistant to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
A young presidential administration besieged with vetting issues may have a new one to deal with, a Raw Story investigation has found.
Michele S. Jones, Secretary Robert Gates’ special assistant and the Pentagon’s White House liaison, was revealed Monday to have exchanged emails with White House gatecrashers Tareq and Michaele Salahi. Entertainment lawyer Paul W. Gardner has claimed that both parties are clients.
The Defense Department announced in July 2009 Jones’ appointment to her current post, claiming that she “previously served with The Bones Theory Group, LLC, Jacksonville, Fla.”
But the Florida Department of State, where all state LLCs are required to register, told Raw Story they have no listing for a “Bones Theory Group.”
“No sir, we have no record of it,” a spokeswoman for Florida’s State Department said of the supposed organization, after Raw Story carefully spelled out its name as written in the DOD’s press release. “A Florida LLC, no sir,” she said.
The website Spirit of Democracy described Jones in an article as “President and CEO of ‘The Bones Theory Group.’” The website, when contacted, could not confirm where they got the fact.
Jones could not be reached for comment.
When asked by Raw Story for more information about the “Bones Theory Group” from its July press release, a spokesman for the Department of Defense didn’t have an answer, but explained the vetting process for DOD applicants.
“Two things need to happen,” he told Raw Story. “One, you get an appointment that has to be approved either by the Secretary or by the White House. They go through a second level of scrutiny through a lady by the name of Bernadette Cruz to confirm if an individual has worked at a specific organization or if the organization even exists.”
He offered no further information, and a different spokesperson said minutes later she didn’t know of any “Bernadette Cruz” affiliated with the Pentagon. Several subsequent attempts to contact the DOD resulted in the representatives hanging up when Raw Story brought up the press release and the “Bones Theory Group.”
It is unclear who was responsible for the error, but at the very least, the DOD’s vetting process seems to have gone awry. The Washington Post wrote in January 2009 about the procedure:
Clearing lower-level appointees is more difficult, especially when they are recommended to the White House by members of Congress or well-connected Washington advisers. Vetters are under intense pressure to satisfy these constituents — after all, questioning a reference from a leading member of Congress is not without political risk.
Jones does, however, have strong qualifications for her present post whether or not she previously ran a LLC. She was the first woman to have held several honorable positions in the Army — Command Sergeant Major, class president at the United States Sergeants Major Academy and division Command Sergeant Major.
Although there is no such Florida LLC known as the “Bones Theory Group,” the name does appear to have its roots. Jones dropped a clue in April 2006 during a speech at the George C. Marshall Awards Seminar as to how the title came about. A report on the event said:
Soldiers are entitled to the best leadership possible, said Command Sgt. Maj. Michele Jones, command sergeant major of the Army Reserve. She said she follows the Bones Theory, which entails having a backbone (courage), a wishbone (a belief that things will get better), a funny bone (laughter) and a tailbone (“You can’t be the best if you don’t get off your tailbone and make things better.”).
Days after the 2006 seminar, a blogger named Melissa Wood wrote about what seems to be the same speech:
This past week we attended an orientation for the course. One of the speakers, CSM Jones, shared her “Bones” theory for getting through the course. It seems to me to be good ideas for life in general, so I’ll share it here:
Back bone – have the courage to do what’s right
Funny bone – find ways to laugh, keep your sense of humor
Wish bone – believe in the future, hope, dream
Tail bone – get up and make a difference
“CSM Jones” is an apparent reference to “Command Sergeant Major Jones.”
Although the Florida LLC does not appear to exist, Jones is listed as a recipient of two government contracts from the Defense Department – one in 2007 and one in 2008, totaling $9000 – to a location in Jacksonville, Florida.
Another listing to the same address is a sole proprietor organization with Jones’ full name, “Michele S. Jones.”
Michele S Jones is a private company categorized under Training and Development Consultant and located in Jacksonville, FL. Current estimates show this company has an annual revenue of $80,000 and employs a staff of approximately 1.
The same source also categorizes the enterprise as “Management Consulting Services, Human Resources and Executive Search Consulting Services.” However, since the small business listings site’s profile was never claimed by Jones, the information appears to have been self-generated and where the $80,000 figure was derived at remains unknown.
Aside from the $9,000 payouts, Raw Story was unable to establish whether Jones held another job since retiring in 2007 — this indicates one possible reason why the DOD said she served with a company that doesn’t exist.
The Salahis have denied gatecrashing the White House state dinner with the Indian Prime Minister, insisting Tuesday on NBC’s Today Show it was “clear” that they “were invited.” Their stance directly contradicted Jones’ statement Monday, issued via the White House.
“I did not state at any time, or imply that I had tickets for ANY portion of the evening’s events,” Jones said. “I specifically stated that [the Salahis] did not have tickets and in fact that I did not have the authority to authorize attendance, admittance or access to any part of the evening’s activities. Even though I informed them of this, they still decided to come.”
Four years ago, in the midst of widespread criticism regarding the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, it was revealed that Bush’s FEMA czar had padded his resume. Days after a Time investigation “found discrepancies in his online legal profile and official bio,” Michael D. Brown resigned.
With additional research by Ron Brynaert and Muriel Kane