RALEIGH, N.C. -- Army inspectors concluded the retired general who headed North Carolina's largest school district and the state transportation agency had adulterous affairs before retiring from the military with praise from superior officers, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Sunday.
The Army's Office of Inspector General concluded in 2007, about six months after Tony Tata's ex-wife asked the Army to investigate several complaints, that Tata had "at least two" extramarital affairs in 1985 and 1992, the newspaper reported.
A relationship with a third woman that resulted in a son born out of wedlock happened after a court decree of Tata's divorce from his first wife, Tracy, but before the effective date, suggesting Tata had "an honest and reasonable belief that he was divorced," said the investigators' report signed by two senior Pentagon generals.
"That was 23 to 30 years ago and I served with distinction and honor" in war zones like Afghanistan, Tata said in a brief telephone call Sunday from France.
Tata's military credentials as an Army general helped him land jobs as Wake County school superintendent and state transportation secretary. Tata's military background supports his current work as a TV news commentator and author of action thrillers.
"I didn't get these jobs or book contracts because I was a general. I got them because I am a good leader and because I write good stories and people buy my books," Tata said in a follow-up text message. He added that he signed a new book contract in July.
Tata resigned abruptly as head of the state transportation department in July, saying he wanted to focus on his family and book career. He also was widely rumored to be considering a run for Congress. Tata said in a recent interview he left the state DOT partly because he "was polling for Congress at the time" and "that probably is not consistent with being a Cabinet member" for Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, the newspaper reported.
Army leaders chose not to penalize Tata for adultery, which he did not deny. Military law treats adultery as a criminal offense in cases where it brings discredit to the armed forces or undermines military order and discipline.
Tata says he retired honorably with the highest noncombat award the Army brass can give, something that wouldn't have happened if his record included marks against his character.
The newspaper reported Tata gave a reporter online access to his Army personnel file. It said nothing about adultery but included a glowing 2008 performance from his supervisor dated four months after filing papers initiating his retirement the following year.
"If I could promote one officer to Major General, I would promote Tony," wrote Lt. Gen. Thomas F. Metz, director of the Pentagon's Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization.
Tata was honored with the Army's Distinguished Service Medal Shortly after his retirement took effect in June 2009.