Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Lieutenant Col. David Kauffman on Wednesday as the first independent inspector general of the California Military Department, which includes the National Guard.
The position was established by Senate Bill 921, signed into law in September in response to concerns raised by a Bee investigation of the Guard that exposed widespread financial fraud, as well as neglect of Camp Roberts, a key training facility.
"I'm pleased the governor acted so quickly to appoint a new inspector general," said Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, an Air Force veteran and co-author of the new law. He said the governor's appointment signals that Kauffman will be independent from Guard leadership - meant to assure whistleblowers that they can report illegality or wrongdoing without fear of reprisal. The law also bars such retaliation.
In addition to examining complaints, Kauffman will issue quarterly and annual public reports.
His appointment "continues the process of restoring confidence in the state's military," Lieu said.
Kauffman, 41, of Placerville, was appointed to a four-year term. Although he reports to the adjutant general, the Guard's top leader, he cannot be fired except for cause. Should claims arise against the adjutant general, Kauffman would be required to report them to federal authorities and the governor.
The new inspector general has served with the California Army National Guard and U.S. Army reserves for almost 20 years, including tours of duty Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. His professional experience includes work a military attorney and as a deputy DA in El Dorado County. The position, which does not require Senate confirmation, pays $141,619 annually.
The Bee series described fraud involving tens of millions of dollars in Guard enlistment incentive payments. An ongoing federal criminal investigation of those concerns so far has resulted in four plea agreements, including one that involved a prison sentence for a former incentive-program manager. The series also exposed improper "double-dipping" payments to top pilots in the Fresno-based 144th Fighter Wing, which resulted in their removal, and to former Adjutant General William H. Wade II, who has agreed to repay tens of thousands of dollars.