Department of Veterans Affairs officials in Alabama apparently lied to a member of Congress when he said VA officials involved in the healthcare scandal in that state were fired.
James Talton of the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System (CAVHCS) told Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.) on Friday that actions were taken to hold people responsible for falsifying records in the VA healthcare scandal.
Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., says a VA official lied to her when he said VA officials had been fired in reaction to the VA healthcare scandal. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
Roby said Wednesday that Dalton told her that officials involved were "no longer working at the VA, due in part to action he took to remove them."
But Wednesday morning, Yellowhammer News reported that those employees were not fired, and instead were reassigned. That report quoted a whistleblower who said "It was wishful thinking that VA employees were fired, but that is a lie."
Roby herself confirmed that report, and issued a blistering statement that said she was going to dig into the matter further.
"No one has been fired," Roby said. "That means the employees responsible for falsifying wait list records are still working at the VA in Alabama.
"Director Talton apologized for what he called a 'misunderstanding' over him repeatedly saying employees had been 'relieved of their duties,' " she said. "However, the unmistakable tenor of Friday's conversation and his failure to correct the record after three days of saturating news coverage tell me this wasn't a misunderstanding at all.
"I believe I was misled."
Roby said if a member of Congress can't get a straight answer from the VA, "just think what our veterans go through on a daily basis."
"For Director Talton to give the false impression that appropriate action had been taken when it actually had not is emblematic of the backward priorities within the VA bureaucracy," she said. "This breach of trust has caused my office to dig even deeper into what is really going on in Montgomery."
The House has passed three bills aimed at disciplining the VA after the healthcare scandal, and the Senate is expected to pass a bipartisan Senate version later Wednesday afternoon.