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Reminder: Johnson Aides Ignored Tomah VA Tips, Senator Blamed "Job Interviews and Stuff"

Senator Ron Johnson is still trying to pawn off the blame for the issues at the Tomah VA that lead to the deaths of three veterans. In an interview with Face The Nation on Sunday, Johnson said government inefficiency was at the heart of the problems:

“So, from my standpoint, the root cause really is the government that is doing so many things that it never was intended to do and doing it quite badly. Look at the VA health care system. We’re holding a hearing in Tomah, Wisconsin, about problems that have been known since 2004. The bureaucrats, the Office of Inspector General did nothing to solve those problems.”

What Johnson failed to acknowledge was that his own office was at the center of the mishandling of the problems at Tomah VA. In fact, Johnson aides “sat on whistleblower tips” about the health center for months, failing to make sure the complaints made it to the oversight committee:

A Johnson spokeswoman responded Monday that the complaints filed last fall by Ryan Honl, a former Tomah employee, did go from one Johnson aide on his Senate staff to Johnson aides assigned to the subcommittee.

And there the complaints died.

Instead of holding his office accountable for the inaction, Johnson blamed “job interviews and stuff” for the delayed response to the reports:

“So, sure, in a perfect world, had this not occurred during an election cycle, when we were in recess, during the lame duck session, when there’s an awful lot of turnover in offices, when people maybe are looking at, you know, doing job interviews and stuff,” Johnson continued. “In a perfect world, sure, they would have been able to – without having the report, and not, as a result, understanding the severity of the situation – might have divined that hey this is something important that we ought to bring to Senator Johnson’s attention.”

Veterans and Wisconsinites deserve better. Instead of cowering behind ambiguous statements, Senator Johnson should own up to his own mistakes.