Miller Statement on Sharon Helman’s Guilty Plea
Today Chairman Miller released the below statement regarding former Phoenix VA Medical Center Director Sharon Helman pleading guilty to a felony.
“While I’m pleased Sharon Helman is now facing some consequences for her criminal activity, I’m extremely puzzled as to why the Department of Justice chose to coddle her with a sweetheart plea deal that amounts to nothing more than a weak slap on the wrist. Such extraordinary leniency is an insult to the many veterans who suffered from the malfeasance and mismanagement of the Phoenix VA Health Care System. It’s also a reminder that to this day not a single Phoenix VAHCS employee has been successfully disciplined for wait-time manipulation and the department still refuses to punish two high-level Phoenix VA managers who it found to have retaliated against whistleblowers. Enough is enough. It’s time for VA and the Senate to get in step with veterans and taxpayers and get behind commonsense proposals like the House-passed VA Accountability Act, which would enable the department to quickly purge corrupt and incompetent employees from the payroll and prevent convicted felons from sneaking out the back door with full taxpayer-funded pensions. Until then, VA’s accountability problems will only continue.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
The VA Accountability Act would give the VA secretary the authority to swiftly fire or demote any employee for poor performance or misconduct while protecting whistleblowers and limiting the agency’s ability to place misbehaving employees on paid leave. It would also give VA the ability to recover annuities on pensions of VA employees convicted of felonies committed on the job. It passed the House in July of 2015 and is pending in the Senate.
VA’s own internal probe finds impunity of agency leaders at scandal-ridden hospital
The Washington Post
Dec. 16, 2015