An executive implicated in the notorious Veterans Affairs wait list scandal has been collecting a paycheck for the last 19 months because there isn't enough evidence to fire him, Stars and Stripes reports
Lance Robinson, the assistant director at the Phoenix VA, was suspended with pay May 30, 2014, after the VA Office of Inspector General found that he failed to provide oversight when the facility covered up long appointment wait times for ailing vets.
Another VA investigative body, the Office of Accountability Review, later found Robinson had allegedly retaliated against one of the whistleblowers in the case.
His lawyer says it's time for the VA to fish or cut bait.
"They don't know what to do with him," lawyer Julia Perkins tells Stars and Stripes. "They aren't willing to admit they were wrong because it is too high profile."
Stars and Stripes reports Robinson's defense team sent a letter to Georgia Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson, who chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, and ranking member Connecticut Democrat Sen. Richard Blumenthal, that trashes the VA's reasons for disciplinary delays, and argues Robinson's innocence.
"The fact that the VA has not actually terminated Mr. Robinson is its own admission that he did nothing wrong," Perkins said in a statement, Stars and Stripes reports.
When the scandal erupted in May 2014, the VA office of inspector general found that more than 1,700 patients were going without care
because their names were never entered on an electronic wait list for appointments.
Later revelations that there'd been cover-ups of months-long waiting times
for vets all around the country led to the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki
According to Stars and Stripes, VA Under Secretary for Health David Shulkin last month told congressional lawmakers delays in disciplinary cases at the Phoenix VA were due to an ongoing criminal probe by the U.S. attorney that was preventing interviews of key witnesses.
"The VA has spent the last year and a half squandering taxpayer dollars on repeated internal investigations into the same unfounded allegations in an attempt to substantiate a baseless removal action," she said in a statement, Stars and Stripes reports.
"All this while, Mr. Robinson has been patiently waiting for the truth to come out. But after hearing yet another VA official give inaccurate and misleading information to Congress and to the public about him, Mr. Robinson couldn't stay quiet any longer."
Robinson's lawyers want his case to go forward so, they say, he can be formally cleared, Stars and Stripes reports.
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