A political ad alleges Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Russ Feingold failed to act on a memo detailing harm to veterans in the VA medical system.
The ad features Ryan Honl, a whistleblower who helped expose the over-prescription of opiate pain medications at the Tomah VA. It’s part of a $2 million ad buy from the Freedom Partners Action Fund, a group tied to billionaires Charles and David Koch. In in, Honl claims Feingold’s office received a memo in 2009 that outlined veteran harm, and did nothing.
Feingold’s campaign claims there’s no evidence his office ever actually received the memo, and noted the group that distributed it has even admitted it may not have been delivered. The campaign also outlined numerous counter-arguments to the claims made in the ad. Among those is the contention that Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who Feingold is challenging in November, also received warnings about problems with opiate abuse in Tomah and failed to act on them for several months.
Honl has previously criticized Johnson and other members of Wisconsin’s Congressional delegation for not moving quickly to address concerns at Tomah, after their offices were made aware of them.
The scandal at the Tomah VA came to light following the death of Jason Simcakoski in August 2014, after the veteran overdosed on a fatal mix of opiates and diazepam, an anti-anxiety medication, which were prescribed to him by VA physicians. His death was one of several linked to the misuse of prescription medications at the hospital.