An investigation into fraud in the Alaska National Guard is now underway.
The audit team is composed of three investigators from the National Guard Bureau. They arrived over the weekend, and will look into allegations of embezzlement and misuse of funds. Their findings are due in a draft report this December. An earlier report by the National Guard Bureau documented instances where money was siphoned from family programs and government equipment was used for personal gain.
The fraud investigation is part of a six-point plan recommended by the National Guard Bureau, after its investigators concluded there was a crisis of confidence in force’s leadership and that reports of sexual assault were mishandled. Gov. Sean Parnell also addressed other reform efforts on Wednesday in a message uploaded to his official Vimeo account. In addition to describing the approach his office is currently taking, Parnell addressed criticisms that he delayed responding to allegations of malfeasance.
“To have the critics say that I would know about something that’s gone on in the National Guard and not done something for four years – that is just not true. It’s not who I am, and Alaskans know it,” Parnell said in the video.
Since a report by federal investigators into the Alaska force was put forward last month, whistleblowers have come forward to express disappointment with the response from the Parnell administration. E-mails and meeting notes from chaplains in the Guard show that they alerted the Office of the Governor to problems with Guard leadership in 2010. Parnell says he or his staff followed command protocol on every allegation, and that Guard leadership told him matters were being handled appropriately.
Just an hour before Parnell released his video message, the group Alaska Women for Political Action held a press conference calling for the firing of two top National Guard leaders – Brig. Gen. Mike Bridges and Gen. Catherine Jorgensen — along with Parnell chief of staff Mike Nizich.