An ongoing story in Washington, D.C. comes to a head today, as Eli Stokols of FOX 31 reported earlier this month:
Congressman Mike Coffman called Monday for Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign his position over recent allegations that veterans died waiting for care in Phoenix and other cost overruns plaguing VA Hospital projects, including one in Aurora.
“Secretary Shinseki has failed to provide any leadership for this organization and instead he has allowed himself to be led by a circle of incompetent and corrupt bureaucrats who have long forgotten that they are there for the sole purpose of serving those who have sacrificed so much on behalf of this nation,” said Coffman, a Marine Corps combat veteran.
Today, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki is testifying before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to answer for recent allegations of mistreatment of veterans at VA medical facilities, as well as the substantial cost overruns for the new VA medical center under construction in Aurora. The Fort Collins Coloradoan documented cases where veterans were left on waiting lists for treatment in that city's VA clinic for longer than allowed, and record were allegedly changed to cover this up. Democratic Rep. Jared Polis, whose district includes the VA clinic in question, has called for an investigation into the incident in Fort Collins–and today, retired general and Democratic CD-5 candidate Irv Halter has also reportedly called for Shinseki to resign.
Without a doubt, there's no excuse for veterans not receiving timely and adequate medical care. We have no interest in defending Shinseki or his department's conduct, and agree with Rep. Polis that the situation must be investigated. But just like we said when embattled Rep. Mike Coffman called for the resignation of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Coffman has no business calling for anyone's resignation after his own problems with employees in the Secretary of State's office before his election to Congress.
If we sound like a broken record on this point, it's because people need to understand the full scope of the Dan Kopelman voter data moonlighting scandal. This was a longtime political crony, a former assistant on the campaign trail, who was caught in a conflict of interest of the most obvious kind–and kept his job in Coffman's office. Coffman personally knew and hired Kopelman, but we haven't read that Eric Shinseki was personally associated with the low-level staffers accused in the VA's current scandal over waiting lists for treatment. After all, the VA has around 280,000 employees.
Bottom line: Shinseki has questions to answer, but Coffman lacks credibility to ask them.