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After lying to members of Congress, VA caught hiding the truth from American Legion

United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald answers questions Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014 at the James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital in Tampa, Fla. McDonald is in Tampa and Orlando as part of his tour of VA facilities during his first 90 days as Secretary. (AP Photo/The Tampa Bay Times, James Borchuck) TAMPA OUT; CITRUS COUNTY OUT; PORT CHARLOTTE OUT; BROOKSVILLE HERNANDO TODAY OUT USA TODAY OUT

A report late last week said the Department of Veterans Affairs purposefully withheld information from the country's largest veterans' group about how many veterans were still waiting for a decision about their eligibility for VA health care.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the American Legion — which has 2.4 million members — asked the VA's national Health Eligibility Center in 2013 how many veterans were waiting on the VA for an eligibility decision. But in response, deputy chief business officer Lynne Harbin prepared slides that purposefully did not answer the question.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald has yet to fire anyone from the VA despite a seemingly constant flow of information about corruption and mismanagement in his agency. (AP Photo/The Tampa Bay Times, James Borchuck)

In an email to staff obtained by the paper, Harbin wrote, "I don't think I want to go into the total number of pending records and will try to skirt the issue, should they try to raise it."

When that email was read by the Journal-Constitution to Roscoe Butler, an official with the American Legion, Butler replied, "wow."

Earlier this year, VA officials were caught lying to members of Congress, which made some worry that if the VA will lie to Congress, they will lie to just about anybody.

A separate story over the weekend from the Topeka Capital-Journal said the VA's workforce management bureau in Kansas recounted several charges of harassment of VA employees by their supervisors. "Fingerpointing, scapegoating, gossip, surprise meetings for adverse action… impossible workloads and timelines, and sabotage of targeted employees are also present," said Richard Sllivan, who was a program head at the office.

Despite these and other stories, the VA has been unwilling to fire anybody for these problems and issues related to the broader VA health care scandal throughout the country.

For the last few weeks, the VA has said it is considering firing four senior VA officials. But since then, two have retired, as the VA has created a process not mandated by Congress to give officials the option of retiring instead of being thrown out.

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