May 22nd, 2014
07:29 PM ET
9 years ago

Dem 2014 candidates want VA chief out

Updated 6:18 p.m. ET, 5/23/2014

(CNN) - Democrats in a three high-profile 2014 races are calling for embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign over a scandal that has rocked his agency and again placed the spotlight of scrutiny on the Obama administration.

Alison Lundergan Grimes, running for Senate in Kentucky, and Charlie Crist, seeking to regain his old job as Florida governor, are going beyond sentiment expressed publicly by Democrats in Washington, who are overall sticking with Shinseki so far.

They were joined on Friday by Michelle Nunn, the Democratic nominee for Senate in Georgia.

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Asked whether Shinseki should resign over alarming allegations of delayed care for some veterans with potentially deadly consequences, President Barack Obama has said he needed more information, but promised accountability if those assertions prove true.

Shinseki says he has no plans to resign, citing an ongoing internal review and an independent probe by the VA inspector general's office.

Lawmaker: VA wait-list, cover-up allegations 'tip of the iceberg'

Nunn is the daughter of former longtime Sen. Sam Nunn, a household name in Georgia who is a recognized expert in military affairs.

In calling for Shinseki to resign, Michelle Nunn applauded his service but said his military achievements have not translated into success in reforming the VA.

"It has become increasingly clear that we need new leadership to build confidence, focus and accountability at the VA to fix what is wrong with the agency," she said.

Nunn's fighting an uphill battle in the deep red state to fill the seat of retiring GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

Related: Poll: Democrats competitive in key southern showdowns

Crist, a Republican turned Democrat, released a statement on Thursday also saying that "his confidence is gone" in the VA's ability to provide care to veterans.

"I appreciate Secretary Eric Shinseki's service to his country, and while we don't know precisely what happened here, we do know that there must be accountability and confidence in leadership in order to get to the truth and provide veterans the medical care they've earned and deserve," Crist said.

"I think it would be best if the secretary stepped down and allowed others to get the VA fixed once and for all."

In her call for Shinseki’s resignation Thursday, Grimes said, "We owe a solemn obligation to our veterans and must repair the breach of trust."

Grimes is facing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who's trying hard to make this election a referendum on Obama, who lost Kentucky big in 2012 and is highly unpopular now.

Like many Republicans, McConnell has sharply criticized the Obama administration's handling of the situation, though he has not called on Shinseki to step down or be fired.

Crist's opponent, Rick Scott, on the other hand, has joined a number of Florida Republicans in calling for Shinseki's resignation.

Another Democrat running for Senate – albeit in a less competitive race – Rick Weiland, also said Thursday that Shinseki should go.

A CBS News poll released Thursday shows about a third of Americans surveyed think Shinseki is to blame for the VA problems. Republicans blame Obama more than Democrats and independents, who the poll indicated are more likely to fault Shinseki or the local hospitals.

Complete coverage of the 2014 midterm elections

Filed under: 2014 • Michelle Nunn • Veterans Affairs
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Mani Miller

    About two months ago I was at West Los Angeles VA FOR Compensation evaluation. I told the physician I lost all hope and trust in the Veteran Administration and would rather suffer at home than wait around to see If I can get a doctor. Go to building 206 at West LA! It's like a homeless camp with a small medical staff. They treat us like numbers and appointments are extremely difficult to get. I wish I'd got out before I messed up my back. I wouldn't get the lousy 255 a month but at least my back would work. It's a pitiable shame that our youth was used to secure the profit of corporate America but once we're unfit to fight then we're unfit to be human. Thanks.

    May 22, 2014 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  2. m

    If a prisoner dies from being denied medical care, his guard is charged with murder. If a disabled veteran dies for the same reason, the VA is given a bonus.

    Shouldn't the government give dying disabled veterans better medical protections than Hassan–the doctor it hired who emptied a clip into a pregnant soldier on our Army base in a jihad massacre? Shouldn't they get higher priority than the Aurora Killer, or John Wayne Gacy, or Charles Manson?

    I don't want to seem unfair comparing the VA to serial cannibals, murder-cult leaders, and mass-murderers who empty shotguns into kids and pregnant women. After all, Gacy wasn't entrusted to improve his victims' health, Manson never swindled bonuses, and the Aurora Killer never covered up his crimes.

    Shouldn't our disabled veterans get better care than the most despicable traitors in society? I sure hope so, because I'm 100% service connected disabled, and I don't think I should be murdered by my own hospital, while standing in line behind the pregnant women murderers.

    Even Bradley Manning, a convicted traitor, gets to cut in line in front of us–just to become a gender-bender.

    Why shouldn't they have to get in line behind us?

    How did disabled veterans get demoted to having our survival be less important than cannibals? Seriously, when did that happen?

    May 22, 2014 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  3. 1776usa2016

    All these people calling for Shinseki's resignation have no idea about the enormity of the task at hand.

    I cannot think of another person that is more qualified to reform the VA than Gen. Shinseki.

    He did not create these problems. He's been in there trying to fix the VA. Which is why the president put him there in the first place.

    Of course we can always find a lesser person to the job.

    Seems like that would satisfy everyone and end up accomplishing nothing. Par for the course in America over the past 30 years.


    May 22, 2014 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  4. John Doe

    The problem with the VA is the structure and and culture which resembles the Catholic Church and sex scandals. Everything is internal, political, and there is little room for discussion.

    May 22, 2014 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  5. king

    its too bad that the dems dont have the mega phone that the repubs have to chastise them for fighting two wars and at the same time cutting money to the VA when these soldiers come back home. its amazing how repubs can cause the problem and then somehow turn it around and blame Obama. they shout government is too big for the past 5 years, but when agencies get cut and repercussion comes, they all gather together and shout government ineptness. what gives here do they really think that government too big and want to drown government in a bath tub, then when the government starts kicking and whaling they point their finger at dems and say; why are you allowing us to drown government in a bathtub, its your fault. i shake my head on a daily basis to see how the repubs lead the american people around like puppy dogs.

    May 22, 2014 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |

    We can almost here the sheep jumping the fence to get to the 0ther side 😀 shhhhh watch and learn ?

    May 22, 2014 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  7. CWT

    Democrats are too busy trying to get rid of the Redskins. And, Crist is a zero.

    May 22, 2014 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  8. DustyOnesIsBack

    Government Health Care. What could possibly go wrong?

    May 22, 2014 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  9. Tychi

    Of course they want him fired, the Congressmen want votes.

    May 22, 2014 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  10. hal

    He Should Resign His Post.

    May 22, 2014 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  11. J.V.Hodgson

    I think part of what gets lost in the emotional aspect of this serious matter is that Shinseki got an increase of $50 to the vet affairs budget and also made addition legislative request for more cash which was filibustered by republicans in the senate.
    If you listen also to the heads of some independent VA organizations representing vets they will tell you this is a decades old issue exacerbated by returning vets from 2 10 year long wars.
    Shinseki should resign and face other charges if he overtly or knowingly authorized the " cooking of the wait lists" I suspect he did not and that includes not knowing what was reported by his own internal audit board (Inspector general reports) on this matter.
    To me the real issue is that if these lists are as diabolically long and dangerous as stated face the fact it means the whole process is understaffed with the appropriate medical resources Doctors/ nurses/ medical technicians etc.
    the quick fix might be to recall field medic back out of detachment to help especially any serving in the national guard.
    That's the " do something quick answer" along with support from state medical hospitals for the most urgent cases where they have space/ facilities needed.
    When that's fixed then accountability investigations are a secondary matter not the primary as being pushed by media and some politicians at this time.

    May 23, 2014 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  12. Marcus

    Seriously how about reporting the real reason why all this is happening with the VA. Let's talk about these same politicians that are wanting a fall guy slashing the VA budget to where the VA can't hire Doctors and other medical providers and pay them a decent wage that is comparable to the civilian market. Or slashing the VA budget to where medical supplies can't be purchased in the quantity needed to support patient care but I guess these issues aren't news worthy or get enough ratings. Just wish someone would state to these politicians about getting their heads out of their rear ends and fix the issue among themselves and quit screwing around with the VA budgets. Working Logistics for the VA I see what cuts have done and continue to do to patient care

    May 23, 2014 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  13. amazed

    Crist, who will.say or do anything to sit in the governor's chair has lost confidence? Question. Was he faking it as a Republican before or is he faking it as a Democrat now?

    May 23, 2014 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  14. ghost

    If he knew about the problem before it broke and did nothing about it, then he should go. Otherwise, NO! He should stay. Enough with the politics, already!!!

    May 23, 2014 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  15. Steve

    Alison and Charlie, you must have missed your daily DNC e-mail filled with hate and ignorance. First you deny the problem, the Blame Bush and then blame republicans. You two best get with the program.

    May 23, 2014 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  16. Steve

    I don't say that Mr. Shinseki did anything dishonest on a personal level, but I would support his termination based on lack of effectiveness, especially damage to his future effectiveness.

    May 23, 2014 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  17. Marie MD

    Even if you are a Democrat where the heck where you or anyone else since the 60s?
    Veterans have been treated like dirt (including the teaklans not given them enough money and sending them to lies of WMDs wars without the proper equipment) for decades!

    May 23, 2014 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  18. WOW

    Why wont Sanders/Reid allow for vote on HR 4031????It passed the House 339-33, is 2.5 pages long and Sanders and Reid wont allow a vote!! It could help clean up the VA mess yet they are refusing to let a vote on it!!! Why CNN..WHY?????

    May 23, 2014 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  19. bill

    you don't fire the team when a team fails-you fire the coach. Obama has to go.

    May 23, 2014 07:40 am at 7:40 am |