Despite Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s best efforts, the Tomah VA scandal continues to haunt her re-election campaign. State Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield) has launched a new television ad critical of Baldwin for sitting on an Inspector General report that would have shined a light on the opioid prescription abuse at the veterans hospital.
The ad begins with a response to Baldwin’s campaign which has criticized Vukmir for opposing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, before the ad moves on to the Tomah scandal. Baldwin has claimed that eliminating Obamacare would eliminate insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions. However, Governor Scott Walker has pledged to amend state law to require insurance coverage of pre-existing conditions and Vukmir has supported bringing back Wisconsin’s high-risk insurance pool to provide that coverage.
“You’ve got some nerve, Senator Baldwin,” Vukmir says in the ad. “Saying a nurse doesn’t care about patients? You knew about the opioid crisis at the Tomah VA, and you did nothing. A veteran died. You offered taxpayer dollars in exchange for silence and hired Hillary Clinton’s lawyer to cover it up.”
The Green Bay Press Gazette reported in 2015 that Baldwin had received a report in 2014 from the Inspector General that the Tomah VA Hospital was overprescribing opioids to veterans for pain management. Despite the report and pleas from a whistleblower who worked for the hospital, Baldwin failed to act until the report became public. Baldwin responded to the scandal by refusing to speak to the media, hiring attorney Marc Elias to act as a political fixer, and then firing a staff member who Baldwin also attempted to silence with a settlement and a non-disclosure agreement.
Elias is a member of Perkins Coie and was the go-between for Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president and Fusion GPS, the originator of the infamous Russian dossier about President Donald Trump.
“I’ve spent my life helping patients. You’ve spent yours playing politics, and it cost veterans their lives,” Vukmir says in the ad. “I’m Leah Vukmir and I approve this message.”