In Tomah, a small town in northern Wisconsin, there was a big scandal at the VA center. Patients were routinely overmedicated and neglected, to the point that some of them died. To make matters worse, if a patient or staff member were to complain about this, they were punished.
The Freedom Partners Action Fund, a Koch-funded front group supporting Ron Johnson, spent two million dollars to run an ad using this ad to attack Russ Feingold. In the ad, they claimed that while Senator, Feingold had received a whistleblower memo alerting him to the scandal but that he did nothing.
The only problem is that Feingold never got the memo. Even the memo writer said she did not give it to Feingold:
The memo was written by Lin Ellinghuysen, president of a local union at Tomah, to another union official. "(M)any of the veterans served at this facility are prescribed large quantities of narcotics," she wrote, adding that it had become a "significant" and "serious" concern.
Ellinghuysen has since gone further, stating to PolitiFact Wisconsin that the memo was not delivered to Feingold or Kind. She said the union official she sent the memo to told her he did not make the deliveries.
It was so blatant a lie that several TV stations pulled the ad. Even the corporate media had to admit that it was false.
The dark money group was forced to change their ad, but it really isn't any more accurate:
In May 2016, after the three TV stations stopped running the Freedom Partners ad, the group released its revised version of the ad. In the new version, Honl says multiple memos outlining veteran harm, including the one from 2009, were marked delivered to Feingold and nothing was done.
That’s a key change.
The original ad states Feingold received the 2009 memo. The revised ad refers to multiple memos, but claims only they were marked as being received by Feingold (and the marking was done by the memo writer).
Remember that the memo writer admitted that she did not deliver it to Feingold. So it's still a lie.
The dark money group, their ad and RoJo have another problem besides their lying about Feingold. They need to explain RoJo's own failure in doing anything even though he DID receive a warning:
Aides to U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson have stated repeatedly that they referred a whistleblower's complaints about the troubled Tomah VA Medical Center to a U.S. Senate oversight committee last year.
One Johnson staffer told the whistleblower that back in October, and the assertion has been repeated in media reports by another Johnson aide.
But a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat who ran the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Federal Contracting Oversight, said Sunday that the whistleblower complaints never reached her or others in charge of the panel.
The oversight subcommittee couldn't have taken formal action on the complaints last year without the involvement of the chairwoman or other Democratic members of the committee.
"Neither Claire nor the majority staff received notification of these complaints," said John LaBombard, McCaskill's spokesman.
A Johnson spokeswoman responded Monday that the complaints filed last fall by Ryan Honl, a former Tomah employee, did go from one Johnson aide on his Senate staff to Johnson aides assigned to the subcommittee.
And there the complaints died.
Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, was the highest ranking minority member of the oversight panel last year. The Senate and subcommittee staffers both report to Johnson but have different command structures.
"Our state staff referred the case to Senator Johnson's appointees to the subcommittee staff," said Melinda Schnell, the senator's communications director.
"Because our subcommittee staff did not have the report, they did not, at the time, appreciate the severity of the problems at Tomah — nor did they bring the matter to the senator's attention."
Strike three and yer out!
Ah, but there's more! There's always more!
A couple of months ago, RoJo went on a right wing squawk radio show to help downplay (read cover up) RoJo's abject failure in helping the very same veterans he proclaims to love. In said radio show, RoJo managed to dig himself even deeper:
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) suggested in a recent radio interview that his office might have responded faster to complaints about problems at a Veteran's Affairs center in Wisconsin, but his staff was busy during the lame duck session "doing job interviews and stuff."
Johnson made the comments in a radio interview on the Jerry Bader Show.
"You have to understand what happens here, in between Congresses. There’s a high level of churn within offices. Actually, two of these people on these email chains voluntarily left for other opportunities, other offices. And so, you've got to understand the reality of the situation," Johnson said.
"So, sure, in a perfect world, had this not occurred during an election cycle, when we were in recess, during the lame duck session, when there’s an awful lot of turnover in offices, when people maybe are looking at, you know, doing job interviews and stuff," Johnson continued. "In a perfect world, sure, they would have been able to – without having the report, and not, as a result, understanding the severity of the situation – might have divined that hey this is something important that we ought to bring to Senator Johnson’s attention."
Ah, so, it was overlooked because his staffers were too busy trying to get the hell out away from him. Well, that's perfectly understandable.
But it is still inexcusable.
Cross posted from Cog Dis.