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Fresno Bee: EDITORIAL - Gen. Wade should repay National Guard double pay
July 29, 2011
Maj. Gen. William H. Wade II improperly pocketed $155,000 when he headed the California National Guard by collecting both state and federal pay in violation of state law. Prodded by an investigation by The Sacramento Bee, the California National Guard investigated and confirmed that the guard's former top officer overbilled the state during the five years he headed the organization.
But state lawyers say he has to repay only $80,720, and that the statute of limitations does not permit the state to recoup the rest.
Sen. Ted Lieu, of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, questions that assessment and so do we. Under it, the general would get to keep close to half of his ill-gotten gains. Moreover, his federal pension would be calculated based on his improperly inflated pay. Thus, the "double-dipping" he committed over a five-year period could keep paying him dividends for the rest of his life.
Incredibly, Wade is disputing even the $80,000 the state is seeking to recover. The newspaper investigation suggests that Wade either knew or certainly should have known he was collecting excessive pay improperly. After three top National Guard leaders in Texas were fired for double-dipping, federal officials raised questions about California National Guard pay practices.
California Guard officials refused to respond to federal inquiries, claiming it amounted to undue federal intrusion.
But these same officials appear to be a lot less protective of the state purse. Something is terribly wrong when a top general collects tens of thousands of dollars improperly and is allowed essentially to get away with it. It not only dishonors the uniform, it sends the exact wrong message to the troops.