SACRAMENTO (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown's choice to head the California National Guard was approved Monday with bipartisan support in the state Senate, with members saying it was the right move to correct financial fraud, poor morale and other problems.
Six senators spoke in support of Maj. Gen. David Baldwin before senators voted 35-0 to confirm his appointment as adjutant general. No one spoke in opposition.
Issues involving the state guard include reports of double-dipping by Air National Guard pilots and a former adjutant general; a failure to maintain Camp Roberts, the Guard's largest training site; and fraudulent use of recruiting incentive payments.
Most of the problems occurred while Baldwin, a decorated war veteran, was in the Guard and before he took command nearly a year ago, said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento.
Baldwin took immediate steps to correct the problems as soon as he took over in April, including firing or reassigning 12 of the Guard's 13 top leaders.
"The general made some tough but vital decisions," Steinberg said, adding later the Senate will keep a close eye on him and the department to make sure he follows through.
The state Guard faces morale problems from a history of sexual harassment, cronyism, double-dipping and discrimination, said Sen. Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles. But he said Baldwin has committed to "clean up the mess most immediately."
Baldwin was deployed in Afghanistan when Brown asked him to take the job. One of his early steps was to remove a former Guard leader from active duty amid accusations that he collected more pay than he was entitled to receive.
A federal audit later found that the Guard improperly handed out millions of dollars in incentive payments. Federal auditors also found double payments to pilots, among other problems.