U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin is speaking out about allegations that her office knew about the over-prescription of painkillers at the VA Medical Center in Tomah for months, and failed to act until the situation became public in a news story.
In a column sent to newspapers, the Wisconsin Democrat offers a timeline for how her office first heard about the situation from a constituent, requested an investigation, and then used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain a copy of a report. When her office received the information at the end of August, Baldwin says it was shared with the constituent, along with “other whistleblowers and the media.”
The Senator has been under fire since whistle-blower Ryan Honl said he tried working with her office after finding out she had the report, but stayed silent for months. The revelations only became public earlier this month, following a Center for Investigative Journalism report.
In her letter, Baldwin admits that her staff should have “done a better job listening to and communicating with another constituent with whom we were working on problems at the VA,” and offers to take “full responsibility for any mistakes we made.” She adds “I not only share his belief that the report’s conclusion fell short, but I also share his commitment to exposing problems at the VA and working on solutions.”
Baldwin and other lawmakers have called for hearings and full investigation at the Tomah VA. The chief of staff at the facility has already been reassigned.