Ousted California Guard general says his offer to return excess pay was rejected

Maj. Gen. William H. Wade II, a former leader of the California National Guard, told Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday that he would have repaid funds he owed the state due to excess pay received as adjutant general, but he was not offered an adequate way to dispute the amount billed.

Wade's comments came in response to an action taken earlier this week by the governor and current Adjutant General David S. Baldwin, who summarily removed Wade from active Guard service and placed him into retirement over the dispute.

"I proposed a repayment option that your office rejected out-of-hand," Wade wrote in a letter to Brown, also provided to The Bee. "All I have done from the outset," he added, "was try to get some due process in reviewing the accounting of anything that I might owe."

Wade said in the letter that he first heard of the forced retirement through media reports. He accused the Guard of failing to provide a full picture of "the complete story behind my performance of federal duty and authorizations to do so "

"The very people that advised me on the legal performance of this federal duty and can attest to the fact that I performed it in good faith and the belief that it was proper, have been prohibited from talking to the media and are afraid to tell the truth because of fear of reprisal."

Maj. Thomas Keegan, a Guard spokesman, said only that "removing Maj. Gen. Wade was in the best interests of the California National Guard and the state."

The Governor's Office also provided only a brief response: "Our office received Maj. Gen. Wade's letter and we continue to support the National Guard's decision to remove him," Evan Westrup, Brown's spokesman, said in an email.

Wade, who headed the Guard from late 2005 until early 2010, now serves in Italy as NATO deputy chief of staff for operations. A Bee investigation found that he had been paid about $155,000 in improper double-dip pay – two days' pay for a single day of work.

California allows Guard members who are also state employees to receive limited dual payments from the state and federal governments, for which Wade received nearly $90,000. Counting both permitted dual pay and pay for days beyond the state limit, Wade got nearly $245,000 from California taxpayers for time worked on federal duty.

In July, after state officials conducted their own analysis of the general's pay records, the state controller demanded that Wade repay $80,720. Due to the statute of limitations, the state sought to recoup only overpayments made during the final 22 months he was in office.

In his letter, the general said that the amount he owes "will reveal itself" after a full review of law, policy and entitlements due to an adjutant general. Wade asserted that conflicts between federal and state laws might be part of the problem. He could not be reached for further comment.

Wade also charged the Department of Personnel Administration with failing to provide clear guidance that would help determine whether he had been overpaid and to what extent.

However, in March the department ruled that no more than 30 days of dual pay during federal military leave can be collected annually. On average, Wade collected nearly 80 dual pay days annually.

As the Guard's top leader, Wade earned a state salary of more than $200,000 plus about $50,000 in federal pay each year. Overall, he was paid more than $1 million during a tenure of slightly more than four years.