A Senate committee on Tuesday confirms Governor Scott Walker’s appointment of John Scocos to Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, despite harsh opposition from Anthony Hardie, who had worked closely with Scocos during his stint as leader of the agency before being fired in November 2009. “I believe this candidate has consistently shown poor judgment, and serious problems with credibility and the public trust.”
In his eight-page testimony delivered to panel members during the public hearing last week (Hardie was unable to attend, he says, due to health reasons), the former executive assistant to the secretary described Scocos as having a “seemingly paranoid management style,” full of “rage,” “chaotic,” and having “serious problems with truthfulness.”
A few dozen people testified in support of Scocos, including Denise Rowan, Commander of the American Legion of Wisconsin, who touted Scocos’ experience. “He keeps the needs of veterans in the forefront as he makes decisions and reviews policies of the department. We are confident that he will make an energetic, mutually respectful and valuable member of the administration.”
Scocos emphasized to members of the panel his top three priorities: WDVA solvency, employment opportunities for veterans, and outreach programs.
The secretary had previously been chosen by the Veterans Board, whose members are appointed by the governor. Walker and a Republican majority legislature in July changed the law to give the governor authority to make the selection.
Hardie insists his opposition to the appointment is not partisan, in fact, he supports the governor’s two Veterans Board nominees, Rev. Carl Krueger and Dan Bohlin. Both were unanimously approved Tuesday 7-0.
The Economic Development and Veterans and Military Affairs committee approved Scocos for the job 5-2, with all Republicans and one Democrat — Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) — voting in favor. Two Democrats — Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) and Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) — voted against Walker’s pick.