California National Guard's top commander asks state to review predecessors' pay

Adjutant General David Baldwin, top commander of the California National Guard, has asked the state Department of Personnel Administration to examine pay records for his two most recent predecessors, Maj. Gens. William H. Wade II and Mary J. Kight, to determine if funds were paid to them improperly and should be recouped.

The move is in response to a Bee investigation last month that Wade received about $155,000 in apparently improper dual pay – payments from both state and federal governments for the same days of work – while serving as adjutant general from late 2005 through early 2010.

Baldwin initially asked the U.S. Army Inspector General and the National Guard Bureau to examine Wade's pay. He said he was told that dual-pay violations, if any, would be a state matter.

In March the Department of Personnel Administration provided a legal opinion that, if applied to Wade, would require him to repay substantial sums. But due to the statute of limitations, recoupment can go back only three years from the date of overpayment, suggesting Wade would be liable for about half the pay he received beyond legal limits.

California law permits dual federal and state pay for full-time state employees up to 30 days per year. Wade exceeded that by hundreds of days during his tenure.

Wade, now based in Italy as NATO deputy chief of staff for operations, repeatedly has declined to comment about his pay issues.

Baldwin ordered a separate audit of all other Guard generals who served as full-time Guard employees since January 2007. The Bee reported in April that at least seven of those generals might have violated dual compensation rules, although less often than Wade. Records did not indicate whether their apparently improper payments were deliberate, or because of errors.

That audit will be conducted by Debbie Richardson, internal audit director for the Guard.

Baldwin also ordered an audit of his pay records and of the Guard's second- and third-ranking officers – Col. Matthew P. Beevers, assistant adjutant general, and Col. Robert A. Spano, chief of staff.

"I wanted to make sure that we had properly accounted for our time and attendance during that same period (as) due diligence," Baldwin said, not because any errors or improprieties are known or expected.

If improper payments are found, Baldwin said, the officers will reimburse the state. That audit will be conducted by Air Guard Lt. Col. Dennis Newman.

Baldwin vowed to make the findings of each review public.

Dual-compensation problems are not always apparent given the Guard's antiquated time-sheet system. Baldwin said he plans to introduce an electronic system that automatically cross-checks state and federal pay records.

Today, a joint oversight hearing of the state Senate and Assembly Veterans Affairs committees is expected to review Guard pay issues.