MARIETTA, Ga. (CN) – The former director of the Georgia National Guard says he was fired after blowing the whistle on “highly disturbing ethical issues and misconduct” of the Adjutant General and the Commander of the state Guard.
Brig. Gen Larry Dudney also claims that Gov. Nathan Deal’s office simultaneously announced the “unscheduled” retirement of both Dudney and the man he criticized, in order to halt any investigation.
Dudney sued his immediate supervisors, Adjutant Gen. William Nesbitt and Commander Maj. Gen. Maria Britt, alleging “violations of standing laws, rules and regulations, to include inappropriate and unethical conduct by senior officials, abuse of authority and discretion, undue command influence, improper endorsement of a product and services, misuse of government property, false statements, preferential treatment, suppressed investigation of a criminal matter, improper hiring practices, failure to maintain good order and discipline, and misappropriation of government property.”
Dudney claims he reported the issues to Nesbitt but no action was taken, so he took his complaints a step further, preparing a report for the Department of Army Inspector General’s Office that included alleged violations of state and federal law. The report ultimately ended at the desk the Army’s top brass.
“Said report negatively portrayed defendant Nesbitt,” states the complaint. “Upon information and belief, all such disclosures of this nature involving General Officers are ultimately briefed to the Chief of Staff of the United States Army and naturally involve State of Georgia authorities when it pertains to GA Guard conduct and matters.”
Before the allegations could be formally investigated, Dudney says, Nesbitt met with Gov. Deal’s chief of staff. One day after that meeting, Dudney was officially reprimanded by Nesbitt over a misconduct allegation from Commander Britt. Nesbitt informed Dudney that he would be “subsequently counseled” concerning the misconduct charge.
“Plaintiff was shocked by this and could only view these actions by defendant Nesbitt as a pretext for further retaliatory action motivated by the report to the Department of the Army Inspector General,” the complaint states.
Four days after Gen. Dudney’s reprimand, the governor’s office announced the retirements of Nesbitt and Britt, and three days later Dudney received his walking papers.
“The termination notice ostensibly indicated that the termination was not for cause and ostensibly was for ‘Force Management’ reasons,” the complaint states. “No comment or reference was made to any purported misconduct on the part of the plaintiff, nor was any follow-on counseling in that regard ever conducted by defendant Nesbitt.”
Dudney says he was not aware of any directives to reduce the number of officer positions in the Georgia Guard, and as director of the joint staff, he would have been or should have been aware of any such directives.
Though Nesbitt made public comments concerning a ‘board process’ before a termination, Dudney says, he is “unaware of any GA Guard board proceeding involving the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s position,” according to the complaint.
Dudney believes retaliation and a cover-up to squelch investigation of his complaints are the real reasons he was fired.
“The underlying ’cause-in-fact’ for plaintiff’s abrupt termination was the governor’s acceptance of the simultaneous ‘retirements’ of defendant Nesbitt and MG Britt,” according to the complaint.
“Inquiry will show the true motivations behind the governor’s surprise announcement and acceptance of these unplanned and unprogrammed retirements. Sequencing of said retirements directly follows Department of the Army notification of significant violations within the GA Guard by plaintiff.”
The governor appoints the Guard’s adjunct general, who oversees the state Department of Defense and its 14,000 members.
Dudney seeks special and general damages, and reinstatement to his former position with the National Guard.
He is represented by Steven Shewmaker, with Lynch & Shewmaker, of Atlanta.