HOUSTON -- Governor Rick Perry has asked his recently appointed top military commander to reverse course on an attempt to wipe out the debts of former top generals who wrongfully pocketed your tax dollars.
Documents released to KHOU-TV through a public information request reveal Adjutant General Jose Mayorga, the Governor's new top commander of the Texas National Guard, recently suggested to The Texas Attorney General to "nullify" the debts of multiple generals who took paychecks from both the state and the federal government for work done at the same time.
The new commander received his job only after the Governor removed the state's last Adjutant General, General Charles Rodriguez, after a series of scandals involving allegations of cover-ups and "double dipping."
The Governor also removed the commander of the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard after they each, respectively, also were found to have taken extra compensation.
General John Furlow, according to documents released from the State Auditor, may owe taxpayers as much as $129,000.
KHOU has previously reported that a criminal investigation into those actions remains ongoing by the Travis County District Attorney's office as well as the FBI, according to sources interviewed as part of the investigation.
"It's of great concern," Governor Perry told KHOU, which originally exposed the double payments.
"I think that you all did some very good work in exposing some practices that are not acceptable."
KHOU also asked the Governor in early June about his intentions regarding getting the money back.
"We're going to be watching them every day to make sure they do (pay the money back)," Perry said. "The payback will be in full, and appropriate, and timely."
However, new documents KHOU obtained through a public information request show General Mayorga tried to give his former colleagues a break.In a letter to the Texas Attorney General, Mayorga wrote "despite the conclusions and calculations....there is considerable evidence (the practice) was in fact authorized... which would nullify any amount of overpayment owed to the state."
When State Auditor John Keel saw Mayorga's letter, he fired back with a letter to the new general reiterating the former generals had violated state law through "an improper practice."
Keel also wrote "the excess compensation... should not have been paid and should be refunded."
The State Auditor sent copies of his letter to Governor Perry and members of the Legislative Audit Committee on June 16.The next day, General Mayorga reversed his position.
In a follow-up letter to Attorney General Greg Abbott, General Mayorga said:
"Pursuant to the Governor's guidance and in order to conform to the opinion of the State Auditor as outlined above we are sending letters to the General Officer's identified (in a recent state audit) asking them to repay the amounts identified. If these former employees refuse to do so, then the Adjutant General's Department formally requests your assistance in pursuing the collection of this debt to the State of Texas."
Neither General Mayorga nor the public information office for the Texas National Guard had any comment for this story.
In a statement, Governor Perry's press secretary Allison Castle said, "The Governor continues to have faith and confidence in the leadership of General Mayorga."
She also said: "The Governor has been clear that these monies need to be repaid. Upon learning of the letter, the Governor's office reiterated the Governor's position about the repayment
The Governor will continue to execute his duties as commander-in-chief of the Texas Military Forces, which includes oversight of the Texas Army and Air National Guard."