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McCain to Tucson VA admin: Stay out of fed probe

Posted at 12:25 PM, Apr 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-20 22:05:13-04
Troubling allegations that Tucson VA leaders are interfering in the Inspector General investigation currently underway. That's according to Senator John McCain and insiders in KGUN9's investigation.
 
McCain sent a letter today to acting director Jennifer Gutowski to look into it.
 
The concern is that V-A employees have been reluctant to tell the complete truth with senior staff in on the inspector general's questioning.  
 
McCain was the first to call for a federal probe based on our KGUN9 investigation that revealed allegations of long wait times, poor care, and whistleblower retaliation.
 
Insiders told us last week, Inspector General investigators were seen walking around -- at all times -- with Tucson VA managers and supervisors.
 
And Senator McCain received several reports that "IG staff have been interviewing whistleblower employees in the presence of senior managers and other key officials." If true, he said, it's troubling.
 
McCain said the "presence of senior managers in the interviews  discourages candid testimony resulting in unreliable record evidence that will erode confidence in the IG's final report.
 
Weeks ago, former top administrator and whistleblower, Pat McCoy, raised the red flag saying VA leadership is in the practice of coaching staff on what to say to federal inspectors. "Not so much in I don't want you to say this, but to preface and tell staff how they should respond to certain questions."
 
IG staff spoke with McCoy for 45 minutes this week and though she can't divulge any details, she fears the investigators are not digging deep enough and nothing will change.
 
In the Senator's letter, also sent to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, McCain urged acting director Jennifer Gutowski to direct Tucson VA management to stay out of the IG investigation.