Brown signs bill extending period to recoup funds in Guard pay scandal

Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 806 Friday, which increases the period for recouping funds improperly received by state employees in the National Guard from three to six years. The law takes effect immediately.

The new law emerged in response to evidence in a Bee investigation in April that former Adjutant General William H. Wade II had received about $155,000 in improper "double-dip" earnings. He received both federal military pay and state pay for the same days hundreds of times – a practice allowed by state law no more than 30 days per year.

Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, called the new law "a good first step in restoring people's confidence in the Military Department and the Legislature's ability to follow through in both its oversight duties and its fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers."

The state conducted its own analysis of Wade's pay records, and demanded that he repay $80,720. Due to the statute of limitations in the old law, he was billed only for the final 22 months of his state employment, and was not liable for full repayment of improper dual pay. Lawmakers now expect the state to recoup a greater portion of funds received by Wade improperly.

Wade was placed into retired Guard status in August by current Adjutant General David S. Baldwin, in response to the pay issue. Wade is currently attached to the U.S. Army Reserve Control Group, and serves as NATO deputy chief of staff for operations in Italy, an assignment scheduled to end in December.

The general could not be reached for comment. In a letter to the governor in August, he said that he would have repaid funds he owed, but was not offered an adequate way to dispute the amount billed.

To date, the Guard has not received any payments from Wade to refund improper dual pay. But he recently made the first $2,000 monthly reimbursement for a separate violation of pay rules – "a $9,800 overpayment in connection with wildfire duties in 2008," said a Guard official. Widespread improprieties in Guard fire pay were described in a Bee investigation in May. A Guard audit on that matter has not yet been completed.