Members of the California National Guard have accused Adjutant General David Baldwin of failing to address what they call a toxic culture inside the Guard. For more than five months, Baldwin has avoided NBC Bay Area’s questions on the matter.
He has cancelled interviews and declined numerous requests to sit down and answer critical questions. The Investigative Unit told General Baldwin to expect cameras and questions, and he recently found both. NBC Bay Area caught up with him on the streets of San Francisco before he made an appearance at an event.
General Baldwin spent less than two minutes answering some of the questions raised by an NBC Bay Area, KNBC joint-investigation and more than two dozen members of the Guard. Below is a transcript of the interview:
Chief Investigative Reporter Tony Kovaleski: General Baldwin, Tony Kovaleski from NBC Bay Area.
Adjutant General David Baldwin: Hey Tony, how are you?
Kovaleski: Do you have a few moments to talk with us?
Baldwin: As we walk down to the hotel.
Kovaleski: I would like to have answers to questions brought up by members of your guard. They say you have not met their expectations of fixing the culture. How do you answer that?
Baldwin: We had a survey done last July by the Defense Equal Opportunity Institute. It shows we have the best command climate within the entire Department of Defense.
Kovaleski: They say you have not answered questions about sexual harassment, racism and retaliation.
Baldwin: They are wrong. All of their allegations have been thoroughly investigated by outside independent experts and the Department of Defense and the United States Air Force and none of their allegations have been substantiated.
Kovaleski: The Petty report: You ordered it. Taxpayers paid for it. It was essentially ignored. How do you answer that?
Baldwin: There was not a report. That document was merely a collection of individual statements that were never investigated.
Kovaleski: But Chief Petty said that he did everything that was assigned to him by the National Guard; everything you wanted. He doesn’t understand why his report has essentially been ignored.
Baldwin: It hasn’t been ignored. All of the allegations have been thoroughly investigated and none of them have been substantiated. None.
Kovaleski: We have asked to sit down with you. We did not want to meet you on a street like this. Why have you avoided answering our questions?
Baldwin: Because I find your journalistic ethics to be completely substandard. Matter of fact, reprehensible.
Kovaleski: Can you specifically talk about what we have done that…
Baldwin: Sure, you had an allegation from one of our airmen that said one of her complaints into a sexual assault may not have been investigated. You held on to that for six months, that’s reprehensible Tony.
Kovaleski: We gave you every opportunity to answer and you avoided our questions.
(Baldwin walks into the building where he was making an appearance).
Kovaleski: Will you sit down with us sir?
NBC Bay Area confirmed the results of the survey Baldwin referred to. Click here to read the report.
More than two dozen members of the California National Guard have come forward to NBC Bay Area with claims that Baldwin has not cleaned up a culture where sexual harassment, racism and retaliation at times go unchecked.
During the interview, Baldwin appeared to acknowledge the case of Jessica Brown. Brown claims her report of a sexual assault in a Las Vegas hotel room during a 2007 training mission has not been investigated.
“They don’t want anybody to know,” Master Sergeant Jessica Brown of Moffett Field’s 129th Rescue Wing told the Investigative Unit in October. “They don’t want their reputation to be tarnished. They don’t want heat or light on our unit.”
Accusations by more than a dozen Guard members were documented in a report by Chief Warrant Officer Ronald Petty, a respected member of the Oklahoma National Guard. Petty is one of two independent investigators sent to California to look into problems inside the Guard.
According to Petty’s report, “sexual harassment and hostile work environment are commonplace in the California Air National Guard.” It also states that “racial tension has been high since 2008.” In an interview, Petty told NBC Bay Area that he found proof the California National Guard failed to immediately assign the counselors and investigators when its members filed complaints—a violation of current National Guard standards.
“It was clear to us, according to them, that the California National Guard was not following proper procedures as outlined by National Guard regulations,” Petty told NBC Bay Area in October.
Despite it being commissioned by the California National Guard, executed by the National Guard Bureau and paid for by taxpayers, Baldwin maintains that Petty’s report is not a report and merely a collection of “statements that were never investigated.”
Baldwin has not responded to the Investigative Unit’s newest request for a 15 minute on-camera interview.
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