Major General David S. Baldwin, who was appointed acting adjutant general by the Democratic governor last April, was approved by a unanimous vote of 35-0 during Monday's floor session. Baldwin's duties include leading the troubled California National Guard. A Bee investigation has detailed financial and management problems within the Guard, including evidence of "double dipping" and fraudulent bonuses and student loan repayments.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg acknowledged that the appointment had been controversial, in part due to the department's history, but said Baldwin "has committed to address the years of wrongdoing and try to change the culture within the department." He said after discussions and a lengthy Senate Rules Committee confirmation hearing, he is "hopeful and confident" that Baldwin is "up to the job."
Baldwin's critics argued during that hearing that he had not done enough to respond to complaints of discrimination against female or minority Guard members. Steinberg said the Senate's inquiries into the allegations found that Baldwin was not personally involved and has pledged to work to fix the problems. The Sacramento Democrat cited a letter detailing the complaints against Baldwin, the general's responses and Senate's plans for oversight.
Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, said he found it "somewhat troubling" that some of the abuses at the guard occurred while Baldwin was a colonel. He also cited as troubling Baldwin's failure to provide federal investigators with documents they requested, calling the decision "not his finest hour." But he said the changes Baldwin enacted in his first year on the job made him worth of support.
"The question today is not what Colonel Baldwin did or did not do, the only question we have today is can Major General David Baldwin lead the California Military Department and the California National Guard," Lieu said. "I believe that's a yes. I believe in the capacity of people to change and I believe in what Major General Baldwin has done these last 11 months."
Baldwin, a Fair Oaks Republican, has served in the Guard for 30 years, including at least two combat tours in Afghanistan. The salary for the job is $180,201.
PHOTO CREDIT: David Baldwin answers questions on Wednesday afternoon as the Senate Rules Committee heard testimony on the appointment of Daniel Baldwin to the top post of the California National Guard at the California State Capitol in Sacramento. February 15, 2012. Jose Luis Villegas/The Sacramento Bee.