Colonel David Mikolaities has been confirmed as the next leader of the New Hampshire National Guard, after facing questions over his role in construction contracts awarded to his brother.
Mikolaities is a graduate of West Point and a Bronze Star recipient with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan under his belt. But during a second lengthy hearing on his nomination to be the state's next Adjutant General, it was his role as construction and facilities manager in the National Guard that led to ethical questions by some elected officials.
Two Executive Councilors, Joseph Kenney and David Wheeler, brought up concerns about a $1 million contract awarded to Mikolaities’ brother’s engineering firm, and whether appropriate disclosures were made. The Councilors said received information about the contract from anonymous sources.
“There’s enough here to say, whoa, this guy is going to be general, this is a severe lack of judgment at the very least,” said District 5 Councilor David Wheeler.
At an earlier nomination hearing, Wheeler also raised concerns about cost overruns and delays involving the construction of a National Guard training facility in Pembroke.
But other military officials, as well as the state’s Attorney General, say there were no conflicts of interest during the contract bidding process because Mikolaities appropriately recused himself.
“Colonel Mikolaities removed himself from consideration of the contracts at issue, and he did it appropriately, at the right time, and so I have no concern about his conduct in this matter,” said Councilor Andru Volinsky, who represents District 2.
The Executive Council confirmed Mikolaities in a 3-2 vote.
“I think what you saw today was a ‘no’ vote in search of a rationale for that position,” said Councilor Chris Pappas, who represents District 4. “They did everything they could to undermine the integrity and honor of an individual who has been serving this state and this country well for decades.”
After being sworn in later this month, Mikolaities will start a 12-year term as leader of the state’s National Guard, which includes both an Army Guard and an Air Guard. Later this week, he faces another procedural vote on a change in his rank to General.
Governor Chris Sununu, who put forward the nomination to the post, praised the Executive Council, as well as those who testified on Mikolaities’ behalf.
“An exemplary guardsman and an American hero, there is no better choice to lead New Hampshire’s National Guard than Colonel Mikolaities, and I am proud that he was confirmed today to serve as the next Adjutant General of the State of New Hampshire,” wrote Sununu in a statement.