April 24, 2018

Boozing, Overprescribing Meds, and Creating ‘Hostile’ Work Space – Concerns about VA Pick Ronny Jackson

Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson walks through the halls of Congress on April 19, 2018. Jackson is President Donald Trump’s nominee to be the next secretary of Veterans Affairs, but his confirmation hearing scheduled for this week was delayed on Monday night. (Photo: Alex Brandon/AP)

Concerns about Dr. Ronny Jackson have stemmed, at least in part, from observations shared by whistleblowers inside the White House and “suggest a pattern of behavior, not just one or two isolated incidents.”

By Jon Queally / 04.24.2018

President Donald Trump’s decision to appoint his personal White House physician to become the next head of the Veterans Department Department hit a wall of controversy on Tuesday after it was revealed a senate hearing that would be the first to review Dr. Ronny L. Jackson’s nomination has been postponed indefinitely amid reported allegations that Jackson has a habit of drinking on the job, overprescribing medicines, and creating a “hostile” workplace environment for his colleagues.

According to the New York Times, “Officials familiar with the allegations against Dr. Jackson declined to offer precise details but said that they suggest a pattern of behavior, not just one or two isolated incidents.”

Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), respectively the chair and ranking member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, announced in a joint statement on Monday that a hearing scheduled for Wednesday of this week would be put on hold as a committee investigation seeks more information on Jackson. The two senators also issued a request directly to President Trump, via this letter (pdf), asking for the White House to share with the committee “any and all communications” related to any Jackson’s job performance, including any complaints or documented infractions, going back to 2006.

CNN reports Tuesday that two whistleblowers spoke to the news outlet about what they witnessed while working inside the White House medical unit under Jackson, and that they had related these observations to the committee.

According to the Times:

Senators were keeping the details of their investigation underwraps but let it be known that the allegations are serious. Senator Mazie K. Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii and a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, said she had heard enough from colleagues to have “deep concerns” about the nomination. “This is concerning even for a very ethically challenging White House,” she said.

Asked if he still supported the nominee, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, offered only, “We’re going to wait and see what Senator Isakson and the administration recommend.”

As news of the possible allegations surface against Jackson overnight, the veterans advocacy group Vote Vets renewed its objections to Jackson’s nomination on policy grounds, but said that if any of these accusation proved true, that would be an indictment of the president’s own failure to adequately vet his choice.

Originally published by Common Dreams under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.