Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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Retired National Guard General Files Lawsuit Over Antisemitism

Retired Brig. Gen. Jeffrey W. Magram, left, and Maj. Gen. Matthew P. Beevers right.

A retired brigadier general with the California Air National Guard is seeking $1.6 million in lost compensation and damages involving claims of religious discrimination and wrongful termination in a lawsuit filed against his former military supervisor, Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California Military Department.

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Magram, who served for nearly 40 years in the Guard and the state military department, claims in the lawsuit filed Jan. 24 in Los Angeles County that Army Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, now the adjutant general of the California Military Department, engaged in a pattern of religious discrimination against Magram, who is Jewish.

Magram said he made several reports from August 2022 to December 2022 to Newsom’s office about derogatory statements by Beevers, according to the lawsuit, which claims no action was taken.

Magram was serving as assistant adjutant general of the military department, and Beevers was deputy adjutant general at the time. Magram worked directly for Beevers.

Magram was “involuntarily separated” in January 2023 from the department, according to the lawsuit. The termination followed an internal review that was not detailed in the lawsuit.

Magram had been employed for nearly 40 years with the California Guard and the Air Force. His career included 15 years as a full-time officer on state active duty with the California Military Department.

“In this position, Magram was the most senior full-time general in the California Air National Guard and was responsible for the administration and support of more than 4,900 California air service members,” the lawsuit states.

Magram is seeking to restore his reputation and clear his military record, according to the lawsuit.

Magram said after the lawsuit was filed that Beevers’ actions were “disturbingly aggressive” and he sued to hold him accountable.

The discrimination and retaliation that Magram experienced, according to the lawsuit, “cost Magram his salary and forced him to take an early retirement, thereby limiting the amount of pension he can receive, as well as negatively impacting his reputation.”

Magram alleges in the suit that he as targeted by Beevers after filing complaints about antisemitic remarks. He said Beevers made “multiple bigoted and disparaging statements” to Magram and other officers about Jewish military personnel, which created a “hostile and toxic” work environment.

“When Beevers learned a Jewish lieutenant colonel in the California State Guard negotiated a military discount on a car, he said, ‘How Jewish can you get.’ He also repeatedly called a Jewish major general ‘cheap’ and said he was giving ‘you guys (referring to Jews) a bad name.’ Beevers described the California State Guard leadership as run by a bunch of ‘kike’ lawyers, which he stated in the presence of another senior leader in the California Military Department,” the lawsuit states.

Magram also claims in the suit that he was subjected to discrimination and harassment on the basis of religion, retaliation for complaining about religious discrimination and/or harassment, whistleblower retaliation, and wrongful termination of employment.

Newsom’s office did not comment Wednesday on the lawsuit and said the California Military Department would respond on behalf of the governor’s administration.

Beevers on Wednesday also forwarded a request for comment to the California Military Department, which issued a written comment, describing the lawsuit as “retaliatory and baseless.”

Lt. Col. Brandon Hill, director of the Office of Strategic Communications at the California Military Department, said in a statement that Magram was investigated in 2021 by the Air Force inspector general “for multiple instances of misconduct” involving ethical violations and maltreatment of subordinates.

The vice chief of staff of the Air Force issued a letter of admonishment against Magram in October 2021 following a review.

“This independent action by the Air Force formed the basis of a removal action initiated by the California Military Department to hold Gen. Magram accountable for his misconduct,” Hill wrote. “The recommended discipline was unanimously upheld by a board of three senior officers with no involvement in the underlying incidents. All actions were taken based on independent investigations by the U.S. Air Force and the military department inspector general. We look forward to defending our actions to hold a senior leader accountable for his misconduct.”

But Magram claims he was removed from his post after making repeated complaints about antisemitism by Beevers.

Magram emailed the California Inspector General’s Office and the governor’s office in August 2022, alleging abuse of authority, discriminatory statements by Beevers and a hostile work environment, according to the suit. He also notified Beevers of the complaint.

Two days later, Magram was brought before a disciplinary action board over a complaint initiated by Beevers. The complaint alleged Magram used military personnel to perform personal tasks. But lawsuit contends Beevers sought to punish Magram over his complaints of bigotry and antisemitism.

Magram filed a follow-up complaint with Newsom’s staff on Sept. 1, 2022. As governor, Newsom oversees the California Military Department.

Magram submitted a whistleblower complaint to Army headquarters and the inspector general’s office a month later, according to the suit. Beevers responded with investigations of Magram over his claims of injury and disability from military service.

The lawsuit claims Beevers tried but failed “to sabotage Magram’s line of duty medical approvals from the Air Guard that were needed in support of his disability retirement by attempting to instigate an investigation into Magram’s disability claims.”

In November 2022, Beevers brought what is known as an Article 239 action against Magram, which led to his removal from the California Air National Guard in January 2023, according to the lawsuit.

Article 239 in California code gives the governor authority to assign, reassign or transfer commissioned officers and warrant officers from one organization to another or to the retired or Reserve list for the benefit of the California National Guard. The governor can also direct the adjutant general to take any action under this section.

“Initiation of an Article 239 action is almost never used in California and is not appropriate when a service member is in the middle of an ongoing disability evaluation process,” the lawsuit states. “Magram is informed and believes, and thereon alleges, that the Article 239 action was done as an act of reprisal and retaliation.”

The board approved the dismissal and Newsom’s office authorized the termination Nov. 9, 2022, with final separation Jan. 8, 2023.

In May 2023, Beevers was appointed adjutant general of the California Military Department after serving as deputy adjutant general.

https://www.stripes.com/theaters/us/2024-01-31/california-national-air-guard-general-lawsuit-antisemitism-retaliation%C2%A0-12857191.html