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Phoenix VA whistleblower: Overturning of director’s firing shows no one accountable

(AP Photo/Veterans Affairs Department)
LISTEN: Brandon Coleman, Former United States Marine and VA whistleblower

PHOENIX — A whistleblower said Wednesday that a court decision to overturn the firing of Sharon Helman, the former director of the Phoenix VA, shows few people are held accountable at the facility.

“It just shows the problems, nationally,” Brandon Coleman told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News.

“We have a president trying to make changes at the VA, we have a secretary that has a backbone that wants to make changes at the VA and yet we can’t hold anyone accountable.”

Helman’s firing was overturned by a federal court on Tuesday.

She was fired in November 2014 following a scandal over long wait times for veterans seeking medical care and secret lists covering up the delays. Coleman was not the person who blew the whistle on her.

She sued the VA to win back her job. She argued that a key portion of a law passed in response to the wait-time scandal is unconstitutional and denied her an important step to appeal her firing.

Coleman said he was not surprised Helman sued over her dismissal.

“Helman is doing what any civil service employee would do, in exercising their rights to try to save their job,” he said. “It’s amazing that, over a year later and a felony conviction, that she is still able to do this.”

Helman pleaded guilty to a felony last year for filing a false financial disclosure with the federal government. She was sentenced to probation after she admitted to accepting gifts worth nearly $20,000 from lobbyists.

Coleman said he laughed when he heard the court’s decision to overturn Helman’s firing.

“Every once in a while on this roller coaster ride, you just have to laugh.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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