Attorneys: VA Hasn’t Fired Phoenix VA Exec On Admin Leave Because He Did Nothing Wrong

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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If the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) wanted to fire Lance Robinson, a Phoenix VA executive on administrative leave, the agency would have done it already says a law firm representing Robinson.

In fact, that the agency has not do so is tantamount to an admission that Robinson, who has been on administrative leave for two years, is innocent of any wrongdoing, attorneys from Shaw Bransford & Roth add in a press release.

The attorneys also say the department is under political pressure to find any reason to get rid of Robinson.

Robinson was initially suspended in May 2014 following an investigation into a scandal which rocked the Phoenix VA. Staff manipulated appointment wait times to make it appear as though veterans were receiving the care they needed while in actuality, veterans continued to die outside of the spotlight.

Two other VA executives at Phoenix also received suspensions. As recently as Dec. 14, 2015, Undersecretary for Health David Shulkin said the reason why Robinson isn’t yet terminated is because of an ongoing investigation. Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson assured lawmakers that the agency will no longer wait for the Department of Justice or the inspector general to finish investigations before bringing down the hammer.

“We’ve waited too long, and we’re not going to do it again,” Gibson said at the hearing. “I’m not going to defer to the IG’s investigation or frankly, to a Department of Justice investigation, because I can’t be assured when it’s going to be completed.”

But attorneys say the VA has had the ability to fire Robinson since July 11, 2014, but has instead elected to keep him on administrative leave. The Department of Justice said April 22, 2015, it would not prosecute Robinson.

“The VA has spent the last year and a half squandering taxpayer dollars on repeated internal investigations into the same unfounded allegations in an attempt to substantiate a baseless removal action,” the attorneys write. “All this while, Mr. Robinson has been patiently waiting for the truth to come out. But after hearing yet another VA official give inaccurate and misleading information to Congress and to the public about him, Mr. Robinson couldn’t stay quiet any longer.”

The attorneys want the VA to come to a decision: either justify firing Robinson, or allow him to return to work.

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