By Skip Munger | News of the Force
As we’ve told our readers, News of the Force has exclusively obtained a copy of the Report of Inquiry (S6889P) Civil Air Patrol, as the report of an investigation by the Inspector General of the Air Force. A copy of the report was obtained by NOTF under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
To the credit of the Air Force, our FOIA request was filed on Feb 15, and the report was received by us less than a month after it was requested.
The report covers the following areas:
• Acting Without Authority
• Violation of CAP Constitution & By-Laws
• Violation of CAP Regulations
• Violation of Fiduciary Duties to CAP
• Violation of Reasonable & Fair Treatment of CAP Members
According to the report, “This inquiry was directed by the Secretary of the Air Force (SecAF) in response to a complaint filed by [redacted]. The crux of the complaint is that the CAP’s Board of Governors (BoG) violated their fiduciary duties, CAP’s Constitution, By-laws, and regulations, and treated [redacted] in an unfair manner, primarily during the conduct and resolution of numerous CAP investigations into complaints made against [redacted].” From what NOTF has already learned, and reported on, the “redacted” information could only refer to former CAP National Commander Maj Gen Amy S. Courter.
The report then goes on to detail the governing bodies of the CAP and their responsibilities (the Board of Governors, the National Executive Committee & the National Board).
“Witnesses discussed CAP’s history of turmoil at the senior ranks, describing how past senior leaders left their positions or were somehow forced out via resignation or removal. Witnesses said CAP’s IG system has often been used as a political tool, prompting a battery of complaints and counter-complaints against CAP senior leaders and BoG members. Nearly every witness blamed the turmoil on CAP’s acrimonious political culture, stemming from the current governance’s system whereby CAP elects the CC and CV via a popular vote of the NB, whose members are influenced either directly or indirectly by the appointment powers of the CAP CC.” the report states. “This created a patronage system which has driven CAP to a point where there a de facto political parties, whereby a group currently out of power looks for an advantage to regain power. Testimony from a majority of witnesses described the system as akin yo “dirty politics” with partisan, acrimonious attacks and resultant ‘backbiting,’ ‘infighting’ and ‘mudslinging.’ A number of witnesses also felt CAP CC has too much power since the commander has appointment powers over NEC and NB members and has direct influence in selecting 7 of the 11 BoG members.”
“CAP’s political factionalism is exacerbated by websites and bloggers that support the various camps [redacted]. Witnesses testified at length about the frustrations with the sites, decrying the frequent nasty, malicious, and vitriolic attacks against senior leaders and the distorted information the sites publish regarding CAP activities and the decisions of CAP leaders, sometimes revealing non-public information from protected sources such as CAP investigation files.” A footnote to this page reads “Witnesses referred to ‘CAP Insights’ as [redacted], while ‘News of the Force’ is [redacted].”
OF course, we’d like to know what the “redacted” words are, but this once again goes to show that many CAP members who do not read NOTF seem think that the CAP is all we report on. CAP Insights does that, but CAP stories are actually less than 1% of the news that NOTF provides, and 99% of those CAP stories that NOTF does report are actually “good” stories about the CAP and its activities.
The report goes into great detail about the CAP’s governing boards, and their structure and regulatory authorities are quoted, but we will not go into all of that here. But one of the main issues pointed out in the report is that the BoG has existed for more than ten years, but most of the CAP’s regulations still do not delineate the BoG’s actual make-up and authority.
Later, the report continues, “[Redacted] asked CAP to send a cease and desist letter to the ‘CAP Insights’ blogger who was writing defamatory comments about [redacted], including that [redacted] was guilty of fraud, waste, and abuse. [Redacted] felt there was precedence for such an action because CAP sent a cease and desist letter to the same blogger a year earlier when [redacted] was removed as [redacted.] [Redacted] and [redacted] testified the previous [redacted] did send a cease and desist letter to the same blogger during [redacted]’s time as CAP CC, and the blogger then ‘turned on’ the CAP GC, with the letter having a net negative effect. [Redacted] and [redacted] also felt that since the blogger was attacking [redacted].”
“[Redacted] brought up a number of incidents in [redacted] complaint and testimony in which [redacted] felt [redacted] was not treated fairly and in accordance with CAP’s past practice, and that every CAP member should be able to expect to be treated fairly and in accordance with CAP regulations. While there is no official standard for ‘fairness,’ Merriam-Webster’s defines ‘fair’ in this sense as ‘marked by impartiality and honesty: free from self interest, prejudice, or favoritism.'”
“The evidence pints a picture of CAP as an organization that is performing well operating as the civilian auxiliary of the AF, which is a great tribute to its 60,000+ volunteer members, volunteer leadership, small paid CAP NHQ staff, and CAP-USAF personnel,” the report concludes. “
But it is also clear CAP has much work to do in the are of governance reform. Witnesses invariably pointed to the same factors which are hindering CAP. The first is that the CAP volunteer leadership structure is over-politicized, a byproduct of the way CAP selects its leaders. Competing factions have used CAP’s IG system and have leaked internal CAP information to vocal bloggers to gain political advantage over rivals. This has tarnished the reputation of CAP’s senior leaders and distracted the BoG from focusing on more strategic matters.
Second, the BoG construct was overlaid upon the existing CAP governance system and has never been fully harmonized, resulting in continued confusion over the roles and responsibilities of the BoG, the NB, and the NEC. There are differences of opinion among CAP’s leadership, including the top legal counsels, regarding the extent of the powers of the BoG. CAP regulations have not been updated to reflect the role of the BoG, with some key regulations predating the BoG’s existence. CAP is aware of these issues and is taking steps to address them, but this will take time in an organization primarily composed of volunteers.”
“[Redacted] continues to feel [redacted] has been undermined and [redacted]’s reputation unfairly damaged. [Redacted] has lost opportunities in [redacted]’s personal life as a business executive due to negative publicity promulgated through the blogs, and [redacted] continues to disagree with the collective judgment of the BoG regarding allegations sustained against [redacted], felling [redacted]’s actions did not rise to the level of actual violations. The inquiry validated [redacted]’s allegation that the BoG did not follow procedures outlined in CAP’s Constitution and Bylaws regarding the proper calling of BoG meetings and the documentation of decisions via minutes. Evidence revealed a lack of ‘corporate rigor’ in the manner in which the BoG was conducting its business. The inquiry also validated [redacted]’s allegation that CAP regulations were not followed in the conduct of numerous investigation of IG complaints against [redacted]. BoG members felt they had the authority to tailor procedures to fit what they considered to be unique circumstances, and that individuals involved in conducting and reviewing the investigations were using due care and diligence. Even so, [redacted] did not receive the due process defined in CAPR 123-2 in the conduct of investigations, most notably by not having the opportunity yo know about or address one of the two allegations which were sustained against [redacted]. Although it is unclear whether a different result would have been obtained if the investigations had been conducted appropriately, at the very least a more transparent process and better communication would have provided [redacted] assurances [redacted] was being dealt with properly.”
“The inquiry did not validate [redacted]’s more serious charge, in particular that BoG members, in particular [redacted], violated their fiduciary duties. Similarly, the inquiry did not validate [redacted]’s claims that [redacted] was otherwise denied fair and reasonable treatment. Although [redacted] presented numerous examples in which [redacted] believed the BoG or [redacted] exceeded their authority as well as instances in which [redacted] felt they did not take strong enough action, the evidence did not support a conclusion that the BoG violated its fiduciary responsibilities. While some of [redacted]’s detractors may have been looking for ways to discredit [redacted] politically, BoG members credibly testified, and the evidence supports, that they exercised due care in issues regarding [redacted] and acted in good faith to ensurer the issues were dealt with in a fair and impartial manner.”
Recommended Areas to be Addressed
“This inquiry revealed, either through witness testimony or observation of CAP documents, a number of issues which could improve CAP governance that warrant further review. Many of these items stem from a BoG construct which has not been fully harmonized with CAP’s existing governance structure, processes, and regulations.”
This list is not to be taken as all-inclusive and many are issues already under consideration by CAP:
• Clarity roles & responsibilities of CAP’s three main governing bodies – BoG, NEC & NB.
• Review selection process for CAP CC & CAP CV (how names are raised, who elects/selects, term lengths, etc.)
• Review process to remove CAP CC and CAP CV.
• Review composition of BoG & how members are selected/appointed.
• Clarify lines of authority and expectations between BoG, BoG Chairman, CAP/CC & NHQ Executive Director.
• Review appointment authority of CAP/CC in selecting NB/NEC & BoG members.
• Review procedures which ensure BoG, NEC & NB decisions and policies are properly codified in governing documents and regulations.
• Reconcile/codify authority of BoG over other CAP entities that currently are given ‘final’ say in CAP matters or that otherwise have ability to review BoG decisions.
• Thoroughly review CAP regulations for inconsistent, incomplete or conflicting guidance: CAPR 20-1, Organization of Civil Air Patrol, is dated 29 May 00 and does not reflect existence of BoG; CPR 35-7, Removal of National Commander or Vice National Commander, also predated BoG (1 Apr 97) & contains wording which differs from Article XV of CAP’s Constitution & seems inconsistent with portions of CAPR 123-2, Complaints; AFI 10-2702, para 2, lists 9 ‘principal tasks’ of the Bog’ as described in Constitution and Bylaws & related governing documents, but these tasks are not found in Constitution & Bylaws or other documents.
• CAPR 123-2, paras 7.d. and 7.e. (5) give conflicting guidance regarding handling of IG complaints against CAP CC and CAP CV.
• Clarify language in CAPR 123-2, para 7.e. (5) regarding the BoG’s/BoG Chairman’s IG appointment authority to be consistent with para 6.a. (1) of CAPR 123-1, The Civil Air Patrol Inspector General Program.
• Evaluate whether due process & adequate notice would be better served if subjects of investigations were provided properly framed allegations vs. use of a ‘short, plain statement’ (see CAPR 123-2 para 8.f.)
• Evaluate process by which complaints against CAP senior officials are processed & resolved.
• Clarify roles of CAP’s National Legal Officer & NHQ General Counsel.
• Clarify duties of CAP CV.
• Clarify term expiration’s of BoG’s Interested Organization appointees.
• Evaluate CAP’s process for growing senior leaders.
• Address role of Air Force oversight of CAP (SAF/MRR, HQ USAF A3, & CAP-USAF) & whether offices are appropriately resourced to oversee CAP activities.”