GOP Throws VA Secretary Under Bus

VA Secretary

Benjamin KrauseDespite unanimous approval, Republican senators threw VA Secretary Robert McDonald under the bus recently for failing to fire Phoenix VA Health Care System Director Sharon Helman after five months of being placed on paid leave aka paid vacation.

Sharon Helman was placed on leave last May when reports services that she oversaw and reportedly endorsed fraudulent practices of staff to benefit personally by illegally inflating performance numbers. Many veterans died and were harmed by the practice that impeded access to timely health care by desperately ill veterans.

At the core of the story, Sens. John McCain, Jeff Flake and Richard Burr are beating the drum to terminate Helman. In response, VA claims it cannot fire Helman because of VA employment laws that supposedly prohibit firing Helman despite the crimes committed under her watch.

As memory serves, McCain’s staffers totally blew off concerns until it became politically advantageous to go after the fraudsters. Prior to CNN hammering on the issue, I do not recall any of the above Republican senators expressing any concern of VA health care wait list frauds. Now, hamming on the wait list scandal is an easy issue to rally behind.

So is this concern over Helman’s extended paid vacation genuine or are these senators playing politics just before the election next month? Did Senator McCain act concerned when families called his office about the fraud perpetrated by Helman’s hospital?

According to Politico:

Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona and Richard Burr of North Carolina, the Senate GOP’s top man on veterans issues, said McDonald has not followed through on cleaning out senior executives such as Helman — even though a new VA law allows the swift dismissal of top officials deemed responsible for mismanagement.

McDonald “personally assured us that he was committed to changing the culture of dysfunction and the chronic lack of accountability at the VA that led to the recent scandal. And yet, as of today, it has been 180 days since Sharon Helman … was placed on paid administrative leave,” the senators said in a statement. “With evidence from the VA [inspector general] report finding that Phoenix VA leadership was aware of unofficial wait lists and access delays, Secretary McDonald has still failed to act. This is unacceptable.”

The trio also knocked McDonald on Tuesday for not answering two letters asking about Helman’s employment status and implementation of the landmark VA reform bill, which passed both chambers of Congress by strong margins after McCain and Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) negotiated a deal with House leaders. That legislation pumped billions in new resources into the VA health care system and let veterans dealing with long delays seek treatment outside the VA infrastructure.

A VA spokesperson responded:

“Unfortunately, some have chosen to be critical of the process to remove senior leaders they themselves have recently written into law. If lawmakers would like a new process, they have the opportunity to pass a new law. Until then, VA will continue to follow the law.”

How is it that any law, now that fraud was essentially proven, allows Sharon Helman to continue to collect a paycheck? Helman has basically been on a paid vacation for five months. How much longer will taxpayers be expected to fund her early retirement?

In all fairness, rumor has it that Helman has a ton of dirt on VA health care employees and has threatened to bring the whole house down should VA pinch her. My best guess is that she is cooperating with investigators, which could be behind some of the firings/early retirement of her colleagues.

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  1. As a veteran, I can feel something wicked coming this way from the politicians who enslave us, use us for our votes, and then laugh at us for our stupidity.

    This wickedness is warned about by Senator Jeff Sessions.

    My paraphrase of his speech today:

    “The Wall Street Journal confirmed today that the President is planning to issue a massive unilateral executive amnesty after the election.

    “In its report, the WSJ certifies that this executive amnesty would provide work permits for illegal immigrants—taking jobs directly from struggling American (veterans).

    “Based on the USCIS contract bid and statements from USCIS employees, we know this executive immigration order is likely to be broader in scope than anyone has imagined.

    “Earlier this week, President Obama’s former head of Homeland Security revealed that she overrode resistance from administration lawyers and law enforcement agents in implementing the President’s earlier unlawful amnesty and work authorization program for illegal immigrants 30 and under. This was an open admission by one of the most senior people in government of violating one’s oath of office in order to accomplish a nakedly political aim.

    “The President is assuming for himself the sole and absolute power to decide who can enter, work, live, and claim benefits in the United States. He has exempted virtually every group in the world from America’s immigration laws: people who enter before a certain age, people related to people who enter before a certain age, adults traveling with minors, minors traveling with adults, illegal immigrants who are not convicted of serious crimes, illegal workers who are convicted of serious crimes but not enough serious crimes, almost anyone who shows up the border and demands asylum, the millions who overstay their visas, and, as was recently exposed, illegal immigrants with serious criminal histories. The list continues to grow.

    “A nation creates borders and laws to protect its own (veterans). What about their needs?

    “The President is systemically stripping away the immigration protections to which every single American worker (veteran) and their family is entitled. He doesn’t care how this impacts American (veterans’) jobs, wages, schools, tax bills, hospitals, police departments, or communities.

    “But it gets worse still. The WSJ reports that the President is ‘expected to benefit businesses that use large numbers of legal immigrants, such as technology companies.’ Those changes include measures to massively expand the number of foreign workers for IT companies—measures aggressively lobbied for by IT giants like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. Yet we have more than 11 million American (veterans) with STEM degrees who don’t have jobs in these fields. Rutgers professor Hal Salzman documented that two-thirds of all new IT jobs are being filled by foreign workers. From 2000 through today, a period of record legal immigration, all net gains in employment among the working-age have gone entirely to immigrant workers.

    “And now, in order to help open borders billionaires, President Obama is going to deny millions of American (veterans) their shot at entering the middle class and a better life.

    “The world has turned upside down. Instead of serving the interests of the American (veterans), the policies of President Obama and every Senate Democrat serve the needs of special interests and global CEOs who fail to understand the duty a nation owes to its own (veterans). But the (veterans) of this country still hold the power, and through their voice, they can turn the country right-side again.”

    With millions of veterans without jobs, without decent-paying jobs, and with jobs that will soon go to illegal aliens, the coming wickedness from Obama, and our Democratic and Republican slave masters, will hurt us worse than any VA scandal.

    We are talking about earning a paycheck to pay for food to feed our families.

    Hungry, miserable, unemployed veterans are we soon to be…

  2. Well-researched and well-written piece, Ben. It seems you have followed the facts wherever they led you and then reported the facts while avoiding spin. Thanks for enlightening your readers.

  3. Nothing new here, Ben. Same degenerates, different day. I’m guessing with Sharon Helman supposedly helping investigators, she can file for “whistleblower” protection rights.

  4. Everyone, including non-vets should be outraged that Helman is still on the payroll regardless of party affiliation. So look at who is responsible. Can you spell Dumbocrats, unions, and special interest groups? She is guilty of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and violation of many other laws including the civil rights of vets. So where are Obama and Holder? MIA.

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