INDIANAPOLIS — For the first time, Gov. Eric Holcomb is explaining his decision to ask for the resignation of Indiana National Guard's top leader, Maj. Gen. Courtney Carr.
Holcomb announced August 12 he asked the adjutant general to step down, but at the time, he thanked Carr for his service and did not provide a reason for the resignation.
Carr is facing a lawsuit from a former Indiana National Guard contractor Shari McLaughlin alleging Carr had an affair with a subordinate, and when McLaughlin spoke out, she was subjected to intimidation and retaliation.
McLaughlin said she reached out to Holcomb's office starting in October 2017 via phone and through the website but was never able to get a meeting.
McLaughlin's attorney said they sent a letter to the Governor's office in April 2019 asking the office to preserve any records in the Carr matter.
Call 6 Investigates caught up with Holcomb at a public event Tuesday and asked why he asked for Carr’s resignation earlier this month.
“After reviewing the lawsuit and being briefed by my team, I felt it was in the best interest of the state and for himself that he resign and I am grateful that he took that recommendation to heart and made the decision to do so,” Holcomb said.
The governor is the commander of the Indiana National Guard during times of peace.
Call 6 Investigates asked who will become the new Adjutant General of the Indiana National Guard.
“We are going to take our time and get it right,” Holcomb said. “We want to make sure that any and all matters at the Indiana National Guard are addressed. We are under no timeline.”
In the meantime, Brigadier General Timothy Winslow will serve as the interim leader.
“I served in the military and I understand how important the chain of command is for the whole unit, so, we won’t dither, but we’ll get it right,” Holcomb said. “We will take as much time as we need to do just that.”
Call 6 Investigates asked Holcomb whether his office or any state entity was looking into the allegations of retaliation and affairs among higher-ups within the Indiana National Guard.
“I can’t comment on the ongoing lawsuit,” Holcomb said. “I asked for his resignation, he took me up on that, and I am pleased about that. All the other affairs, you will have to direct toward the folks that are involved in that lawsuit.”
The Indiana National Guard provided the following statement when asked about McLaughlin's lawsuit:
While we cannot discuss the nature of the current litigation, we can say the Indiana National Guard as a whole prioritizes its care for all uniformed and civilian personnel within the organization and continues to be a ready and reliable force supporting its communities, state, and nation.
The Indiana Attorney General’s office represents current and former state employees, including Carr.
A spokesperson said the AG’s office will respond to the allegations against Carr in court at the appropriate time.
Court documents outline McLaughlin's allegations of other sexual relationships between some of her co-workers and Indiana National Guard active-duty members.
"Everybody was sleeping with somebody that wasn't their spouse," McLaughlin said. "There's no way to trust if things are being done for the right reasons, in the right way, because everybody has blackmail on somebody else."
She says once she came forward with concerns, McLaughlin was subjected to retaliation, unwarranted write-ups, false accusations, and intimidation.
"It just got worse and worse," McLaughlin said. "I disclosed information that didn't look good."
McLaughlin alleges Carr got her fired from her subsequent job at Alutiiq, a federal contractor who administers the Building Healthy Military Communities program.
"Within ten days I was terminated from it," McLaughlin said. "It didn't seem real. I knew what I was facing was big."
Shortly after starting her new position, the company informed her not to report to work the next day because she was "unfit to represent the state."
"It's an abuse of power," McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin said she was shocked to see Carr step down.
"I was shocked," McLaughlin said. "It also struck me as odd that he's retiring with full benefits."
McLaughlin called his retirement not even a "slap on the wrist."
"He loses nothing, and meanwhile I lose everything," McLaughlin said. "I've never felt so weak in all of my life and so powerless."
She hopes her lawsuit will prompt changes within the Indiana National Guard.
"It's not just me, it's the service members and veterans who are being hurt by this as well," McLaughlin said. "The only thing that keeps me going is trying to make things better for the greater good."
Carr submitted the following statement to RTV6:
I want to thank Governor Holcomb for the distinct opportunity to serve as the adjutant general. It has been my honor to lead the exceptional soldiers and airmen of the Indiana National Guard. Tim brings a world of knowledge and a wealth of experience into this new leadership role. His leadership style will be a steadying influence during this time of change.