Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald said Friday that more claims about the agency should be fact-checked, just as he uttered a complete falsehood.
“I’m always glad when veterans issues are raised, I just wish there would be more fact-checking on some of the numbers that are used,” McDonald said at the event.
According to his speech Friday at National Press Club event, the agency has proposed disciplinary measures for 300 people relating to waitlist manipulation.
But based on documents provided by the VA to Congress, this number is completely untrue. In fact, there are only 24 cases of proposed discipline for cases “involving wait time manipulation.” And even though the department has proposed disciplinary action in 24 cases, only three employees have been fired for manipulating wait times.
In a document provided to Congress, the VA listed disciplinary action for 300 employees, but as per a request from the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, the department also distinguished between proposed discipline for waitlist manipulation and proposed discipline for other unrelated reasons.
In the 24 cases of discipline for waitlist manipulation, some even received lighter punishments than were originally proposed. A medical assistant was recommended for firing. But that assistant received a suspension of only two weeks. A suspension for an administrative officer of 14-29 was downgraded to less than 14 days. A health official was demoted instead of fired.
Dozens of veterans died, and employees created fake wait lists to hide poor care. Phoenix, the epicenter of the scandal, which started in 2014 and led to the resignation of Secretary Eric Shinseki, still is the source of some of the worst problems plaguing the department.
McDonald did not respond to questions about Hillary Clinton’s remarks that the GOP is exaggerating problems at the department to forward an ideological agenda, instead saying, “I told you we’ve made progress and we have more work to do.”