[1/25/17] Days into Donald Trump’s administration, heads are finally beginning to roll at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Two notoriously corrupt employees in Puerto Rico were fired this week, indicating that more may be on the way.
One is the hospital’s CEO, DeWayne Hamlin, who offered an employee $305,000 to quit after she played a role in exposing his drug arrest.
“Mr. DeWayne Hamlin was removed from federal service effective January 20, 2017,” the VA said. Jan. 20 was Inauguration Day.
Under former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald, the agency ignored years of evidence about shoddy work ethic, theft and whistleblower retaliation. The VA finally began a months-long investigative proceeding last year, after an outside agency, the Office of Special Counsel, prodded VA leadership.
Even as it knew of the problems, McDonald tapped Hamlin to mold other VA employees in his image, having him serve as a “coach” at the Leaders Shaping Leaders training session in September. McDonald said the training is the number-one way to shape the agency’s culture.
Paperwork reviewed by The Daily Caller News Foundation shows that bosses openly told Rosayma Lopez that she was being fired for refusing to fabricate a reason to fire another employee, Joseph Colon, after he exposed that Hamlin had been arrested at 3 a.m. in Florida on suspicion of drunk driving while in possession of pills for which he had no prescription. Diversion of opiates from VA facilities is a major issue. After ethics officials blocked that firing, he attempted to pay her to quit using $305,000 of taxpayer money, which would have been the largest settlement in recent VA history. She refused the money.
Also in September, Leah Bradley, the VA’s general counsel under McDonald, told Congress that Hamlin’s attempts to get rid of Rosayma Lopez were not retaliation, even though the investigation was ongoing, she did not cite any evidence, and ultimately the evidence apparently concluded otherwise.