MADISON, Wis. – Russ Feingold doesn’t need to worry about the facts.
Why should he? The mainstream media refuse to call him on his fallacies.
Case in point, the Democrat’s curious comments to WXPR, a Public Radio station in Rhinelander.
In its piece headlined, “Feingold Hits Back At Tomah VA ‘Dark Money’ Ad,’ WXPR reported that “Feingold shot back at a revised commercial from a so-called ‘dark money’ group funded by the Koch Brothers, claiming Feingold did nothing after being notified of a problem at the Tomah VA.”
The “problem” turned out to be widespread overprescription of painkillers and the deaths of veterans at the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
In the ad, paid for by conservative Super PAC Freedom Partners Action Fund, whistleblower Ryan Honl says memos laying out “serious” concerns at the hospital were marked “hand-delivered” to then-Sen. Feingold in 2008 and 2009.
Feingold is hoping to reclaim the seat he lost to Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, in 2010.
Feingold’s campaign continues to claim that the Middleton liberal never saw the memos.
Over the weekend, Feingold told the public radio station that it’s all just a cynical political ploy by the issue advocacy group.
“…..it’s shameful that the Koch Brothers and Ron Johnson hiding behind them are trying to make this a political issue. This is about the death of a veteran in 2014.”
It is. Marine veteran Jason Simcakoski, who died of a fatal “cocktail” of medications at Tomah – long after Democrat congressional members were presented with alarming information about the medical center.
“(By then) of course, I’d been out of office four years. I was told (Ron Johnson’s) office had information from Ryan Honl, the guy in the ad, as early as 2011 ….”
Just one problem. That’s not true.
Honl, a Gulf War veteran, did not start working at Tomah until 2014.
“As part of a vocational rehabilitation program, Honl was hired as a time and attendance secretary at the VA Medical Center in Tomah. He started in mid-August 2014, and then, just six weeks into the job, he filed for whistleblower protection, saying he was asked to falsify attendance records for a doctor,” WISN 12 News reported earlier this year.
Wisconsin Watchdog brought the matter to the attention of WXPR. A staff member directed calls to the station’s news director Ken Krall, who was not available for comment Monday.
Feingold’s campaign has never returned a call from Wisconsin Watchdog seeking comment.
Feingold’s high-priced campaign lawyers sent threatening letters to Wisconsin TV stations demanding they remove the original ad featuring Honl. Three TV stations submitted. They are now running the updated ad, in which Honl references two examples of communications hand-delivered to Feingold’s office. He said the union representative who sent the communications has gone into great detail about the alarming memos to congressional members.
“Russ Feingold never cared about the scandal at Tomah until he started his campaign, and that’s why he has no clue about the basic facts,” Honl, who has endorsed Johnson, said in a statement. “I didn’t even start working at Tomah until 2014 – three years after Russ Feingold said I warned Ron Johnson.
“Russ Feingold isn’t interested in what happened at the Tomah VA or about helping veterans — he’d rather use the issue to make false attacks against the people who are actually trying to fix the problem,” Honl said.
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