Tags: Health Topics | VA Scandal | Sen. Tammy Baldwin | VA | staffer | fired | Democrat

Sen. Baldwin Hires Lawyer to Top Democrats to Defend VA Firing

By    |   Thursday, 19 Feb 2015 10:12 PM

Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin is finally speaking out — in a way — about her decision to fire a staffer in connection with her office's handling of problems at the troubled VA facility in Tomah, dubbed "Candy Land" for the huge amounts of painkillers prescribed to veterans.

But it isn't the freshman Democrat doing the talking for now about her decision to fire a senior aide, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Instead, Baldwin has left it to Marc Elias — former general counsel for 2004 Democratic Party presidential nominee John Kerry and attorney for embattled Democratic senators, including Harry Reid of Nevada — to field questions about her decision to fire Marquette Baylor, Baldwin's deputy state director.

Baylor was ousted last month after Baldwin's office came under fire over its handling of the Tomah, Wisconsin, hospital.

The Journal-Sentinel noted that her office sat for months on an inspection report which found that patients at the VA facility, located 165 miles northwest of Milwaukee, were prescribed high amounts of opiate pain medication.

Baldwin began calling for a federal investigation only after news reports last month showing that as many as three veterans had died after being treated at the Tomah VA.

Elias acknowledged in a written statement to the newspaper Wednesday that Baylor was offered a severance package. Earlier this week, Baylor rejected that package and has reportedly hired a team of attorneys to explore the possibility of legal action for wrongful termination or sexual discrimination.

Elias has been a "go-to" lawyer for Democrats with legal problems. In 2008, he represented Democrat Al Franken in legal battles over the disputed Minnesota Senate race, which Franken won by a razor-thin margin of 312 votes after a long legal battle.

In 2004, he represented Kerry in his unsuccessful effort to get ads for the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth — a vets group critical of Kerry's combat performance in Vietnam — taken off the air.

Last year, he represented Reid in dealing with a Federal Election Commission inquiry over the expenditure of campaign funds. His 2014 clients included then-Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, who came under fire for using Senate funds to pay for private charter flights, and Kay Hagan of North Carolina following reports that her husband had received hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal stimulus funds.

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Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin is finally speaking out — in a way — about her decision to fire a staffer in connection with her office's handling of problems at the troubled VA facility in Tomah, dubbed "Candy Land" for the huge amounts of painkillers prescribed to veterans.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, VA, staffer, fired, Democrat, lawyer, Candy Land, Tomah, opiates, veterans
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2015-12-19
Thursday, 19 Feb 2015 10:12 PM
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