Former Phoenix VA Director Is Suing The Government For Her Job Back
Sharon Helman, former director of the Phoenix VA health care system infamous for kicking off the waitlist manipulation scandal, is suing the federal government to regain her job.
Helman’s lawyers are petitioning the U.S. Court of Appeals to look into the decision which resulted in her removal. The petition did not specifically mention the grounds for the request for review.
In response, the Department of Veterans Affairs wants to quickly dispense with the petition, making the argument that the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act mandates that firings are final. Additionally, the VA stated that even if the judge doesn’t accept that point, Helman has long since passed the 60-day appeal window put in place by the legislation.
“I think Sharon Helman’s arguments will be about as successful in a court of law as they were in the court of public opinion,” House Veterans Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Jeff Miller told The Arizona Republic. “Nevertheless, I still have serious concerns about the overwhelming lack of accountability at VA in the wake of the biggest scandal in the department’s history.”
Notably, Helman was never actually fired for involvement in the waitlist scandal. Rather, she was fired on November 24 of last year following an internal investigation. Her indiscretions? Helman failed to report gifts, retaliated against whistleblowers and did not conduct proper oversight of the hospital, The Arizona Republic reports. (RELATED: Phoenix VA Executive Booted For Beyonce Tickets)
An inspector general report confirmed that Helman knew that statistics were falsified.
Chief Administrative Judge Stephen Mish of the Merit Systems Protection Board did not accept any charges against Helman stemming from manipulated wait times, citing hearsay as the central reason for tossing them out of the process.
Not a single person has been fired from the VA in direct connection with manipulated wait times at Phoenix, despite VA secretary Robert McDonald stating in the past to the media that 60 employees have been fired for that exact reason. Associate Director Lance Robinson and Health Administration Systems chief Brad Curry remain on administrative leave, collecting $250,000 while they await potential disciplinary action.
“That’s ridiculous. They’ve been sitting at home eating bonbons getting paid — and they’ve done jack,” Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema told The Arizona Republic.
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