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VA fires Alabama official who lied to member of Congress, but appeal is still possible

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

More than two months after a member of Congress said a Department of Veterans Affairs lied to her, the VA says it has fired that official.

The VA announced Friday that it "formally removed" the director of the Alabama Veterans Healthcare System. While the VA didn't name the official, it's James Talton, who was recently put on leave with pay.

The Department of Veterans Affairs, run by Secretary Robert McDonald, says it fired a VA official on Friday. (AP Photo/The Tampa Bay Times, James Borchuck)

Some were immediately skeptical of the announcement, and noted that the VA has previously allowed people to retire instead of being fired. But a VA spokeswoman confirmed to TheBlaze that Talton was fired.

The decision means Talton won't receive pay any longer, a move that Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.) welcomed. Roby has said Talton lied to her directly by saying officials involved in the VA health care scandal had been fired, when they hadn't.

But the decision may not be the end of the story. He was fired under a law approved earlier this year that allows the VA secretary to remove someone and give them seven days to appeal that decision to the Merit Systems Protection Board.

That means Talton has until next week to appeal the decision, and the Board would have 21 days to render a decision. If the Board considers Talton's case, it would be the first one considered under the law.

On the surface, it would seem difficult for the Board to reverse the VA's decision. Aside from lying to a member of Congress, Talton has been blamed for allowing a VA official to take a veteran to a crack house, and for not disciplining or firing this official.

However, the Board has indicated that it does not support language in the law allowing for the speedy removal of corrupt officials. In August, the Board issued a rule that said the law is a likely violation of the Constitution.

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