Vt. National Guard general to face questions from lawmakers

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) Vermont National Guard Adjutant Gen. Steven Cray will face questions from lawmakers when they return to Montpelier next month.

An investigative series published last week by Vermont Digger included allegations of excessive drinking, sexual harassment and misconduct and a fraternity-style culture within the Vermont National Guard.

Gov. Phil Scott says he doesn't see a need for an independent investigation of the guard, but a key lawmaker says he wants to hear more. Rep. Tom Stevens, D-Waterbury, currently the vice chairman of the House General, Housing and Military Affairs Committee, says he wants Gen. Cray to speak to lawmakers about the culture within the guard. He says the guard represents the state and lawmakers have a responsibility to ensure the institution is well-run.

"I think it's very concerning to lawmakers because we do have this one form of oversight. It is the Vermont Guard, it's not just the National Guard. It's not the national Army. This is the Vermont Guard. These folks represent us and if there is this kind of behavior that's going on then we should be concerned about what these Vermonters are doing in our name," Stevens said. "I do expect it to be respectful. They've deserved some respect in terms of what their work is and what they do for us. But, these are questions that have to be asked and it's a culture that has to be explained. in a way that's satisfactory to us."

Cray's third term as head of the Vermont National Guard will end in March and he is not seeking re-election.

Gov. Scott has said he wants to change the way the next adjutant general is elected. Some lawmakers say they may agree to have nominations come from a board or committee, but probably won't be interested in handing over their ability to choose the adjutant general to the governor.