Obama Finally Nominates A Permanent Inspector General For The VA

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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After nearly two years, President Barack Obama has nominated a permanent inspector general for the scandal-plagued Department of Veterans Affairs.

That permanent IG is Michael Missal, a lawyer based in Washington, D.C., who focuses on internal investigations. He’s previously served as an investigator for the Department of Justice, where he examined negligence claims against subprime lender New Century Financial Corp. The last time the VA had a permanent IG was in December 2013, and Congress has long taken note.

In late June, Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin led 10 other senators in an effort to pressure the White House to pick a permanent IG, saying that stability would help restore some amount of trust in the beleaguered department. At that time, Richard Griffin was serving as acting IG, following George Opfer’s resignation in 2013. Many veterans’ advocates and members of Congress accused Griffin of overly close cooperation with the VA and White House to soften damning findings and withhold sensitive reports from the public. (RELATED: Quit Stalling And Pick A Permanent VA Inspector General, Group Led By Dem Senator Tells Obama)

In July, shortly after the letter came out, the White House promised that it would find and nominate a permanent IG. But officials never provided a timeline, nor did they give an answer as to why the post has been vacant for so long. (RELATED: White House Promises To Find A Permanent VA Inspector General)

“I have long called for the president to nominate a permanent Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs,” Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin said in a statement. “In June I led a bipartisan group of senators urging the president to take action so I am pleased that he has made a nomination because we need a permanent IG for the VA to provide stable leadership and oversight of the agency. I now look forward to engaging in a careful review of Michael Missal’s qualifications for this important job.”

Shea Wilkes, a whistleblower and spokesman for the VA Truth Tellers, said that he was heartened by the news and hopes Missal’s nomination will bring much-needed correction to the VA.

“VA Truth Tellers are heartened to hear that President Obama has listened to the cries of whistleblowers, Congress, American taxpayers, and most of all, veterans,” Wilkes said.

“We look forward to listening to Mr. Missal’s confirmation hearings to assure he is committed to changing the culture of the VA Office of Inspector General,” Wilkes added. “It is imperative that he is willing to make the organization more transparent, honest, and independent that will not only protect whistleblowers, but fully and properly investigate their allegations and claims.”

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