President-Elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is the man appointed by President Barack Obama as its undersecretary of health and whose tenure has included some of the worst scandals afflicting the troubled agency.
In contrast to Trump’s stated intention to say “you’re fired” to many VA bureaucrats, Shulkin has been an aggressive advocate on behalf of the agency’s status quo. He has made factually challenged statements in defense of VA’s hiring individuals with felony criminal records and doctors who have lost their state licenses to provide medical care.
Shulkin also had to apologize for “misspeaking” when he incorrectly claimed that a story published by The Daily Caller News Foundation (TheDCNF) was untrue. He said VA had fired an employee who had taken part in an armed robbery when in fact she continued to work in the hospital’s security office while wearing a GPS ankle monitor.
He then asserted VA could not consider the armed robbery because it occurred when she was off duty. Shulkin issued a statement saying “as is true in private-sector employment, a federal employee generally cannot be terminated for off-duty misconduct unless there is a clear connection between the misconduct and the individual’s employment.”
The VA has provided employment for multiple individuals with criminal records, including one awaiting trial on manslaughter charges for beating an elderly veteran to death, registered sex offenders, and a person who was hired to manage an agency credit card program shortly after being released from federal prison for credit card fraud.
Additionally, TheDCNF has found dozens of predators, including kidnappers, armed rapists, and repeat child molesters on the VA payroll. Some of those identified by TheDCNF at the Detroit VA hospital are wanted by the authorities who are fearful for public safety. The hospital cited a desire to protect its employees to justify not informing law enforcement.
Sen. Jeff Flake recently introduced a bill barring the VA from hiring people convicted of certain felonies or doctors and nurses who have had license issues, and requiring it to fire current employees fitting those descriptions.
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