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Skewered By Local Press, Ron Johnson Attempts To Blame Tammy Baldwin For His Tomah VA Inaction And Lies

As questions mount over Ron Johnson’s inaction and subsequent lies concerning the Tomah VA, Johnson is refusing to own up to his failures and instead attempting to blame his colleague Tammy Baldwin for the fact that his office merely forwarded the whistleblower complaints to another section of Johnson’s own staff, which has been described as “the equivalent of a congressional black hole.

Roll Call reported yesterday on Johnson’s blame game which comes after months of Johnson intentionally misleading the press and the public into believing he had taken real action:

“In a perfect world, the one member of the Wisconsin delegation that had access to the report would have shared that with other congressional offices so we also could be made aware,”

The truth is, Tammy Baldwin contacted the Tomah VA, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the VA Office of the Inspector General to get answers on prescribing practices.

But Johnson?

He never acted on the complaints he received from the whistleblower and he didn’t do a single thing to try and obtain the Inspector General’s report after his office learned about it in November.

“Ron Johnson sat on VA whistleblower complaints, willfully deceived the public about his lack of action, and never made a move to obtain the report, and now he’s trying to blame Tammy Baldwin to deflect from his own failures,” said Sadie Weiner, DSCC National Press Secretary. “He should be ashamed of his inaction and his efforts to mislead Wisconsinites. Ron Johnson should stop blaming scapegoats, step up to the plate and actually do something to help Wisconsin veterans.”

BACKGROUND:

JOHNSON’S OFFICE PREVIOUSLY CLAIMED THEY TOOK ACTION BY FORWARDING WHISTLEBLOWER COMPLAINTS TO SUBCOMMITTEE

Johnson Spokeswoman Said Johnson’s Staff Received Reports of Problems, Aides Referred Matter to Senate Subcommittee on Federal Contracting Oversight. As reported by the LaCrosse Tribune, “Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., praised the CIR for bringing the issues to light. A spokeswoman said when Johnson’s staff received reports of problems at the Tomah VA, aides referred the matter to the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Contracting Oversight, of which he was the ranking member.” [LaCrosse Tribune, 1/16/15]

BUT NEW REPORT SHOWS THE SUBCOMMITTEE CHAIR NEVER RECEIVED COMPLAINTS

Senate Subcommittee Refuted Johnson’s Claims That His Office Referred Complaints About Tomah VA To An Oversight Committee Last Year. “Aides to U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson have stated repeatedly that they referred a whistleblower’s complaints about the troubled Tomah VA Medical Center to a U.S. Senate oversight committee last year. One Johnson staffer told the whistleblower that back in October, and the assertion has been repeated in media reports by another Johnson aide. But a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat who ran the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Federal Contracting Oversight, said Sunday that the whistleblower complaints never reached her or others in charge of the panel. […] “’Neither Claire nor the majority staff received notification of these complaints,’ said John LaBombard, McCaskill’s spokesman.” [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 3/9/15]

 

  • Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “What Was Not Clear In Any Of Those [Previous Media] Accounts Was That The Complaints Simply Changed Hands From One Johnson Aide To Other Members Of His Staff.” “In October, Mark Nielsen — Johnson’s veterans services caseworker — responded to Honl by suggesting he was taking action. […] What was not clear in any of those accounts was that the complaints simply changed hands from one Johnson aide to other members of his staff. Schnell declined to name the staffers, citing privacy concerns.” [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 3/9/15]

THE COMPLAINTS SIMPLY CHANGED HANDS FROM ONE JOHNSON AIDE TO OTHER MEMBERS OF HIS STAFF” LIKE “A CONGRESSIONAL BLACK HOLE”

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “The Complaints Simply Changed Hands From One Johnson Aide To Other Members Of His Staff” Which “Proved The Equivalent Of A Congressional Black Hole.” “In October, Mark Nielsen — Johnson’s veterans services caseworker — responded to Honl by suggesting he was taking action. […] What was not clear in any of those accounts was that the complaints simply changed hands from one Johnson aide to other members of his staff. Schnell declined to name the staffers, citing privacy concerns. Schnell said there was nothing disingenuous about her earlier remarks. The complaints did end up with staffers assigned to the oversight subcommittee, meaning Honl’s concerns were, in fact, relayed to the panel. Even if that proved the equivalent of a congressional black hole.” [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 3/9/15]

  • HEADLINE: “Ron Johnson Aides Sat On Whistleblower Tips On Tomah VA” [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 3/9/15]

 

NEW REPORT SHOWS WHISTLEBLOWER EMAILED JOHNSON’S OFFICE IN NOVEMBER TO MAKE THEM AWARE OF IG REPORT ON TOMAH

Nov. 2014: Whistleblower Emailed Johnson’s Office To Make Them Aware Of Inspector General’s Report On Tomah That Had Not Been Provided To The Public. “Among the concerns Johnson’s office received from the whistleblower, Ryan Honl, were complaints that Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, had the unreleased inspection report from the VA Office of Inspector General and hadn’t acted on it, aside from sharing it with a constituent. ‘There is a report that was given to Senator Baldwin’s office by the OIG that they have not provided the public on the VA OIG website,’ Honl wrote in an email to both Baldwin’s and Johnson’s offices in November. ‘I’ve been disappointed that neither of your offices has put the full pressure of your offices on what is happening at the VA.’” [USA Today, 3/10/15]

BUT JOHNSON DID NOTHING TO TRY TO OBTAIN THE IG REPORT

Johnson Admitted His Office Should Have Followed Up After Whistleblower Email Alerted Them About Existence of IG Report, Said Staff Should Have Worked To “Aggressively Obtain It.”  “Johnson said Tuesday he wished his staff would have realized the need to follow up at the time and find out more about the report Honl was referencing. ‘Obviously we didn’t do what I would have liked to see them do: highlight it and aggressively obtain it,’ Johnson said.” [USA Today, 3/10/15]

  • HEADLINE: Johnson: My Office Could Have Done More On Tomah [Appleton Post Crescent, 3/10/15]

 

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