Get ready to scream at this odious decision of the Department of Justice.
Sharon Helman, the former head of the Veterans Affairs office in Phoenix, where unacceptable wait times and false recordkeeping were common, and where 40 military vets died while waiting for treatment, was removed from her job after the Veterans Choice Act was passed.
A key provision of that act allowed for “incompetent and indifferent executives whose inaction allowed veterans to die to be more easily fired,” House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy said. She was fired for a variety of reasons last November after an 18-month suspension during which she continued to collect her $169,000 salary and bonuses. She is now suing the federal government to get her job back.
In addition to her incompetent and egregious management of the Phoenix VA, Helman pleaded guilty last February to filing a false financial disclosure that failed to list more than $50,000 in gifts from a lobbyist—a former VA employee whose consulting firm did contractual work for the VA in Phoenix.
A report in Phoenix New Times explained:
“She hid the substantial gifts she received from the lobbyist in her official financial-disclosure reports to the government, according to the Arizona U.S. Attorney's Office. The office released a statement describing how Helman actually had received gifts worth more than $19,300 that year from the lobbyist. ‘The gifts included an automobile, a check for $5,000, concert tickets, and two round-trip airline tickets,’ a statement from the office says. She filed a false report in 2012 that failed to note $2,000 in gifts. And in 2014, she took gifts valued at more than $27,700.”
For that crime alone she could have been sentenced to 5 years in prison. But she got a slap on the wrist and probation—no prison time.
If that doesn’t raise questions about the justice system, this will: Loretta Lynch’s Department of Justice is ignoring the bi-partisan legislation that was passed with President Obama’s blessing in 2014, which clearly states in a provision that chief administrative judge rulings are "final and shall not be subject to any further appeal."
Still, Lynch thinks key parts of the law is “unconstitutional” and could jeopardize other incompetent public servants. In a statement to Kevin McCarthy, which was obtained by CNN, Lynch wrote, "I note that the scope of this decision is narrow. Although the Department of Justice has decided not to defend (VA reform law) against the Appointments Clause challenge in this case, the department will continue to defend the vast bulk of the statute."