– Embattled former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz did not abuse his office by recommending his girlfriend for an Iraq reconstruction-related job four years ago, according to a report released Friday by the Pentagon's inspector general.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the IG's investigation two years ago found that Shaha Riza was "'uniquely qualified" for the position.
Whitman said the report found that Wolfowitz "may have recommended her" along with others for the 2003 contract.
The inspector general's report found the recommendation was not an abuse of power by Wolfowitz, now head of the World Bank, Whitman said. Riza was paid for expenses only, which a private watchdog group says was just over $17,000.
Wolfowitz is so far defying calls by critics to step down over his involvement in securing a huge pay increase and promotion for Riza.
At issue is whether Wolfowitz broke or bent bank rules to enable the hike and promotion for Riza, at the same time that he helped to arrange her transfer to the State Department to avoid a conflict of interest. Her net wages jumped from $132,660 to $193,590 by 2006, which made her – by far — the highest paid person at the State Department, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Whitman did not say if he knew whether the inspector general actually interviewed Wolfowitz or whether the investigations' findings would be released, but that Wolfowitz did acknowledge his personal friendship with the woman.
"I think you have to remember back when this took place, it was at a time when the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance under Jay Garner was trying to stand up very quickly and at that time, this would not have been unique in that regard. This was an attempt to fill some of these positions with qualified people to provide advice on economics, politics and business," White man said.
Call made to the IG's office to obtain a copy of the report were not returned.
FOX News' Nick Simeone and Jennifer Griffin contributed to this report.