The inspector general of the Department of Veterans Affairs has issued a scathing report finding that the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection has failed in its core mission of protecting whistleblowers, and instead has doubled down on the retaliation that is widespread in the agency.
Donald Trump heralded the new office as a way to clean up a long-standing culture of retaliation against whistleblowers in the agency. Instead it has been used to retaliate against the whistleblowers it was created to protect, and to stifle their claims. The IG found that the office’s first executive director, Peter O'Rourke, "leveraged his power as head of the whistleblower office to end investigations into allies and failed to provide basic reports to Congress on the office’s operations." O'Rourke eventually became acting secretary of the VA, then left to become executive director of the Florida Republican Party, which tells you pretty much all you need to know about him and the tone he set for his new organization.
"In its first two years of operation, the [office] acted in ways that were inconsistent with its statutory authority, while it simultaneously floundered in its mission to protect whistleblowers," the report said. It didn't provide adequate training for the investigators it hired and "did not have an approach that ensured comprehensive and impartial investigations," it concluded. "The [office] itself engaged in actions that could be considered retaliatory." What a racket for Trumpers—a perfect "catch and kill" system to hide corruption within the administration. "The report's findings of failings in all these areas help explain the significant challenges [the office's] leaders face today in establishing trust and achieving its intended goals," said Michael Missal, the department's inspector general.
None of this is particularly surprising, considering that the VA as a whole has been run by a handful of Trump cronies whom he hangs out with at Mar-a-Lago. None of the three men Trump turned the agency over to had ever served in the military, but they still steered all policy concerning U.S. military veterans. The VA has been sued by VoteVets and other groups over these three private-citizen cronies of Trump, with no official appointments, running the organization. In addition to these lawsuits, the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs and the Government Accountability Office are investigating.
Published with permission of Daily Kos