News from Representative Coffman

   

Dear Friend:

Late Wednesday afternoon, the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (VA OIG) released its investigative report detailing the massive cost overruns and delays in the Aurora VA hospital’s construction.

This report confirms what we’ve known all along: Senior VA officials intentionally misled Congress, repeatedly lying under oath in congressional hearings, on the Aurora VA hospital’s rising costs and construction delays.

Earlier this year, U.S. Representative Kathleen Rice (D-NY) and I called upon the VA Office of Accountability Review and the VA OIG to investigate whether criminal referrals are appropriate in regard to the Aurora VA hospital construction project and that if they were not criminal referrals, to the Department of Justice, to explain specifically why not.  No doubt, I’m deeply disappointed that the VA OIG has yet to act upon that request.

After reviewing the report, I was particularly struck by the VA OIG’s conclusions concerning the congressional testimony of former VA executive Glenn Haggstrom.  After recounting numerous internal warnings Haggstrom received about the cost-escalation in Aurora, as well as Haggstrom’s testimony before Congress in May 2013 and April 2014, VAOIG generously concluded Haggstrom “did not share [the] information with Congress.”

A less generous assessment is that Haggstrom intentionally misled Congress – he lied

As the report details, Haggstrom was a party to extensive internal communications concerning the likely need for significant additional funding for the project.

I believe the Department and its various congressional witnesses knowingly painted an inaccurate picture of the Aurora project in its testimony before Congress in an effort to avoid criticism, embarrassment, and responsibility, and ultimately, accountability.

I immediately called for the VA OIG to review its newly-released report to address whether criminal referrals to the Department of Justice for any VA officials are appropriate. And if no criminal referrals are appropriate, I asked the VA OIG to clearly explain why.

Intentionally misleading Congress, by repeatedly perjuring themselves in giving false testimony under oath, is a serious offense, especially when over $1.6 billion in taxpayer funds are now committed on a project originally estimated to cost around $600 million.

I will continue fighting to ensure that those responsible for this debacle and its attempted cover up are held accountable.


Sincerely,

Mike Coffman
U.S. Representative

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