Tags: VA Scandal | Senate | Tammy Baldwin | ethics | complaint | VA

Ex-Staffer Files Ethics Complaint Against Dem Sen. Baldwin

Image: Ex-Staffer Files Ethics Complaint Against Dem Sen. Baldwin
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By    |   Wednesday, 22 Apr 2015 04:02 PM

Sen. Tammy Baldwin has been hit with an ethics complaint before the Senate Ethics Select Committee by a fired former employee who charges that Baldwin sat on a report of serious problems at a Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs hospital for months until news media reported that a former Marine had died there.

Marquette Baylor, Baldwin's former deputy state director and chief of her Milwaukee office, charges that Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat, ignored a report from the VA that found the Tomah VA Medical Center was over-medicating patients, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported, despite Baylor's urging action.

Baylor says Baldwin did not demand an investigation until after news broke of the deaths of three veterans at the Tomah hospital, including former Marine Jason Simcakoski, 35, who died from "mixed drug toxicity," USA Today reported.

In her complaint, Baylor says: "Sen. Baldwin and her staff have disparaged the truth in order to cover up [Baldwin chief of staff Bill] Murat's actions and to protect her political career."

She further says that had Baldwin acted more quickly, "the issues surrounding the Tomah VA Medical Center would have been identified and addressed long ago. By attempting to place the blame at my feet, Sen. Baldwin has concealed the truth, made false statements and mischaracterized my service as the deputy state director."

She added that Baldwin's actions constitute "willful misconduct" and are "unbecoming of a United States senator. She has acted unethically."

Baldwin spokesman John Kraus called the charges a "political hit job," adding that Baylor was being used as a "pawn" by the Republican law firm handling her complaint, and said, "This partisan political drama isn't going to distract from Sen. Baldwin's commitment to work in a bipartisan way to get to the bottom of the problems at the Tomah VA and make sure they never happen again. She remains focused on ensuring that our Wisconsin veterans receive the timely, safe and highest-quality care that they have earned," USA Today noted.

When she was fired, the Journal-Sentinel notes, Baylor turned down the severance package she was offered because she refused to sign a required confidentiality agreement.

Marc Elias, a well-known Democratic lawyer representing Baldwin, said, "Marquette Baylor was terminated because her long-term performance on a range of issues did not meet with the senator's expectations for effective constituent service," the Journal-Sentinel reported.

However, Joe Fadness, executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party, told the Journal-Sentinel: "Tammy Baldwin needs to stop hiding behind her legal team and take responsibility for her role in this increasingly bizarre cover-up that includes blaming staff for her failures and offering hush money in exchange for silence."

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Sen. Tammy Baldwin has been hit with an ethics complaint before the Senate Ethics Select Committee by a fired former employee who charges that Baldwin sat on a report of serious problems at a Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs hospital for months until . . .
Senate, Tammy Baldwin, ethics, complaint, VA
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2015-02-22
Wednesday, 22 Apr 2015 04:02 PM
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