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Acting VA Inspector General Richard Griffin Intends To Step Down

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Jonah Bennett Contributor

Richard Griffin, acting inspector general for the Department of Veterans Affairs, said on Tuesday that he plans to step down from his position by the end of the week.

Griffin has served as acting IG for 18 months since January 2014 after moving up from his former role as deputy inspector general, The Arizona Republic reports. His background includes 26 years at the Secret Service, after which point he moved over to the VA in 1997, and then eventually took over for George Opfer.

“I feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to serve with you at the VA OIG for more than 14 years and to have worked with such a dedicated team of men and women who have constantly demonstrated their courage, integrity and passionate commitment on behalf of our nation’s veterans,” Griffin said in a statement.

Linda A. Halliday, currently working as the assistant inspector general, is set to replace Griffin next week.  President Barack Obama still has not nominated a permanent inspector general.

Many legislators and veterans’ advocates have characterized the change as long overdue. Last week, a group of 10 senators led by Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin called for Obama to quickly pick a permanent VA IG to replace Griffin. A permanent IG, the senators argued, would help to restore trust in the department. (RELATED: Quit Stalling And Pick A Permanent VA Inspector General, Group Led By Dem Senator Tells Obama)

Others took a much harder stance.

“His departure is long overdue,” Pete Hegseth, CEO of Concerned Veterans for America, told The Washington Times. “While acting as IG, Griffin diminished the effectiveness and trustworthiness of the Office of Inspector General by whitewashing the deaths of veterans at the Phoenix VA, withholding documents from members of Congress, and not publicly releasing IG reports that document misconduct within the VA.”

Griffin has received strong criticism for withholding reports from Congress and the public regarding overprescription of opioids at the VA facility in Tomah, Wis., which led to heated rebuke from several legislators. Another report, which Griffin did release, courted accusations that both the VA and the White House overly influenced the findings to avoid culpability.

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