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SACRAMENTO, Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed an Army National Guard lieutenant colonel as the first independent inspector general of the California Military Department to investigate claims of wrongdoing at an agency beset by fraud in recent years.
The governor this week named Lt. Col. David Kauffman, of Placerville, to the first four-year term of the newly independent position.
The position was created as part of SB921, which Brown signed into law in September. Its intent is partly to restore confidence in the chain of command at the California National Guard following a series of bruising revelations about misspending and financial fraud.
The law also gives more protections to Guard members who blow the whistle on misconduct, and it says the inspector general can be removed only for good cause.
"This sends a signal that both Gov. Brown and the Guard are committed to reforming the past abuses of prior administrations," Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, said Friday.
He authored the legislation that created the new position.
Kauffman, 41, has served with the California Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve for nearly 20 years, and has done tours of duty in Afghanistan, Kosovo and at Guantanamo Bay Cuba, according to the governor's office.
He has been with the California Military Department since 2005.
Before the law took effect, the inspector general was selected by the head of the California National Guard and could be removed from the position at will.
After Brown named Maj. Gen. David Baldwin to lead the Guard last year, Baldwin acted swiftly to remove a general from active duty following an investigation by The Sacramento Bee. The Bee's report found that Maj. General William Wade collected $155,000 in improper "double-dip" earnings as adjutant general from 2005 to 2010, at times receiving two days of pay for a single day of work.
The Bee also reported routine violations of safety and security rules by pilots, found that the Guard's largest training site, Camp Roberts, has not been maintained, and that payments intended as recruiting incentives were fraudulently spent for other purposes. Separately, federal auditors raised questions about double-dipping by pilots.
Lieu said Brown has made strides to address systemic problems in the Guard since he took office in 2010, and an independent inspector general will be an important change.
"Until today, the person was selected by the Guard itself, and that led many Guard members and employees to not fully trust the inspector general," said Lieu, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force. "Now they know this is an independent person. The person cannot be removed by the National Guard and people should have faith that the Guard will investigate their claim fairly and honestly."
Kauffman's nomination must be confirmed by the state Senate. The position pays $141,619 a year.