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After years of absence, some semblance of accountability may have finally begun to return to the scandal-plagued Department of Veterans Affairs with the reported firings of two of the VA’s most ethically challenged employees.
Luke Rosiak of the Daily Caller News Foundation reports on the Inauguration Day firing of the VA’s most notorious bureaucrats.
Days into Donald Trump’s administration, heads are finally beginning to roll at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Two notoriously corrupt employees in Puerto Rico were fired this week, indicating that more may be on the way.
One is the hospital’s CEO, DeWayne Hamlin, who offered an employee $305,000 to quit after she played a role in exposing his drug arrest.
While Hamlin’s firing is long-delayed good news, perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this story involves Bob McDonald, who was appointed by President Obama to run the VA after the former head of the department, Eric Shinseki, was compelled to resign in disgrace after the exposure of the VA’s secret wait list health care rationing scandal. McDonald appears to have tolerated the institutionalization of corruption at the VA.
Under former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald, the agency ignored years of evidence about shoddy work ethic, theft and whistleblower retaliation. The VA finally began a months-long investigative proceeding last year, after an outside agency, the Office of Special Counsel, prodded VA leadership.
Even as it knew of the problems, McDonald tapped Hamlin to mold other VA employees in his image, having him serve as a “coach” at the Leaders Shaping Leaders training session in September. McDonald said the training is the number-one way to shape the agency’s culture.
The other long-delayed good news at the VA is the termination of Elizabeth Rivera, who had been allowed to return to her job in the VA’s security office after having missed work for several days after she was arrested and held in jail for her role in an armed robbery.
After TheDCNF broke the story, administrators told Congress it wasn’t true and Elizabeth Rivera Rivera had been fired, before backtracking and claiming that it was impossible to fire employees for off-duty crimes.
Outside lawyers ridiculed this explanation, and spokesmen at the time would not say why she wasn’t simply fired for missing work because she was in jail.
She was suddenly fired Tuesday for misconduct, including being absent without leave and failing to disclose other arrests on her job application, which her background check apparently did not catch.
Under President Obama’s administration, numerous government agencies became characterized by the toleration of the misconduct of badly behaving employees appointed by the president. The firings for grievous misconduct that have begun at the VA under the new Trump administration are a welcome first step toward reforming the bureaucracies that became far too tolerant of such corrosive behavior.