West Point superintendent misused his office, Pentagon report says

Mike Groll/AP - U.S. Military Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. David Huntoon arrives for a graduation and commissioning ceremony in West Point, N.Y., on May 26, 2012.

Pentagon investigators found that the three-star Army general in charge of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point misused his office by having subordinates perform personal tasks, but the results remained confidential until the eve of his retirement, according to newly released documents.

Lt. Gen. David H. Huntoon Jr., the West Point superintendent, improperly made staffers work at private charity dinners, provide free driving lessons and feed a friend’s cats, according to a report by the Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General.

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The report was completed in May 2012, but the inspector general and the Army kept the results secret until Friday, when a heavily redacted version was released in response to Freedom of Information Act requests filed by The Washington Post and other news organizations. Huntoon is scheduled to retire July 17 after a 40-year military career.

In response to the findings, Huntoon paid his staffers $1,815 for the work and told investigators that he “never intended to violate any regulation” and “accepted full responsibility for his actions,” according to the report.

The inspector general recommended that the Army consider “corrective action” against Huntoon. On Friday night, an Army spokesman said that Huntoon was issued a “written memorandum of concern” Oct. 5, admonishing him for improperly using subordinates. A West Point spokesman said Friday that Huntoon declined to comment.

Huntoon is one of several Army generals who have been investigated or censured for misconduct the past 18 months. In November, then-Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta ordered a sweeping review of ethical training and standards for generals and admirals after high-profile scandals.

The problem has persisted, however. Three more Army generals have been fired or suspended in the past three months.

Last week, the Army suspended a two-star general in Japan for failing to properly investigate a sexual-assault case. Last month, the top commander at Fort Jackson, S.C., was suspended after allegations of a physical altercation with a mistress. And in March, the two-star commander of a counterterrorism task force in Africa was fired while facing charges of groping a woman after drinking.

Investigators began looking into Huntoon in October 2010, three months after he took charge at West Point, in response to allegations that he was involved in an improper relationship with an unnamed subordinate, whom he had hired and promoted.

In the end, the inspector general cleared Huntoon of any wrongdoing in that regard. But 21 of the report’s 31 pages — which covered that aspect of the investigation — were blacked out.

The Army prohibits officers from using enlisted soldiers as “servants.” But the report said Huntoon “improperly induced” staffers to provide private driving lessons and care for a friend’s cats.

The inspector general also determined that Huntoon had aides work at private dinners and charity events, giving them only $30 and $40 Starbucks gift cards in exchange for about 18 hours of work each.

 
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