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Feingold’s facts fail again in face of Tomah scandal

By   /   May 16, 2016  /   News  /   No Comments

Part 23 of 47 in the series Tomah VA Scandal

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.

RELATED: PolitiFact Wisconsin trusts Russ Feingold to deliver its facts

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.

Watchdog.org file photo

TO TELL THE TRUTH: Russ Feingold twisted the facts into fiction when he tried to defend himself in the fallout of the Tomah VA Medical Center scandal.

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.

Part of 47 in the series Tomah VA Scandal
  1. After damaging silence, Baldwin now calls for probe of troubled VA center
  2. Legal expert says U.S. Sen Tammy Baldwin is in full ‘damage control’
  3. Baldwin aide breaks silence, alleges senator engaged in ‘coverup’
  4. Baldwin’s public relations team kicks into high gear following ethics complaint
  5. Ethics watchdog urges Senate committee to investigate Baldwin
  6. Tammy Baldwin’s political fixer is helping Hillary attack voter ID
  7. Senate committee asking if FBI missed the call in veteran’s death at VA
  8. When lawmakers failed Wisconsin’s veterans
  9. Is political pressure behind Lin Ellinghuysen’s differing accounts on VA memo?
  10. Bernie Sanders failed to act in deadly VA scandal, whistleblower says
  11. Does government union chief’s threat show AFGE’s hand on veterans care?
  12. What would Russ Feingold’s 1992 self say to the 2015 version?
  13. Ad attacking Feingold asserts veterans died because of ‘politicians who looked the other way’
  14. Feingold’s campaign caught up in VA scandal memo war
  15. PolitiFact Wisconsin trusts Russ Feingold to deliver its facts
  16. Sources: Ron Kind received call from Jason Simcakoski not long before Marine’s tragic death
  17. Captain Campaign Finance Reform, Russ Feingold, changes ‘dark money’ tune
  18. Baldwin talks transparency while keeping her secrets in Tomah VA scandal
  19. Ron Kind knew about Tomah VA abuse years before the story broke
  20. Ron Kind now solving Tomah VA scandal one press release at a time
  21. Tammy Baldwin silent on her failures as she blasts Tomah VA medical center
  22. Tomah VA whistleblower says he’s getting pressure from unhappy Dems
  23. Feingold’s facts fail again in face of Tomah scandal
  24. Senate field hearing to shine more light on Tomah VA scandal
  25. Tomah VA supervisor accused of misconduct gets promoted
  26. Senate hearing to look deeper into scandal-plagued Tomah VA hospital
  27. Kind flees questions, Senate committee turns up heat on Tomah VA hospital scandal
  28. Report: Tomah VA hospital story is one of ‘systemic failures’
  29. Tomah VA hospital whistleblower: ‘It will not change’
  30. Ron Kind breaks silence on call from veteran victim at Tomah VA hospital
  31. VA union holds rally to save itself, Tomah whistleblower says
  32. Sound familiar? Illinois Rep. Tammy Duckworth accused of retaliation at VA
  33. Emails say Tomah VA patient reached out to Feingold, Kind, in 2008 about abuse
  34. Johnson: Hold accountable those who put Tomah veterans at risk of HIV, hepatitis
  35. Veteran jumps out of third-floor window at Tomah VA hospital
  36. Tomah VA employee: ‘We have forgotten who we work for’
  37. Congressional committees want answers on Tomah VA hospital
  38. Senators ask Pence, Trump transition team, to hold troubled VA accountable
  39. Veterans advocate: VA hospitals’ ‘improvement’ doesn’t tell whole story
  40. Tomah VA Medical Center’s ‘Candy Man’ stripped of license
  41. Opinions differ on whether it’s ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’ at Tomah VA
  42. Latest data show Tomah VA hospital improving in opioid prescriptions, veteran satisfaction
  43. VA secretary nominee faces little resistance, lots of challenges
  44. Insiders: Tomah VA troubles continue with nurse shortage, neglectful care
  45. VA whistleblower has questions for Congressman Ron Kind
  46. Johnson brings back whistleblower protection bill as Sunshine Week opens
  47. Iraq war veteran burned by ‘very frustrating process’ at VA


M.D. Kittle is bureau chief of Wisconsin Watchdog and First Amendment Reporter for Watchdog.org. Kittle is a 25-year veteran of print, broadcast and online media. He is the recipient of several awards for journalism excellence from The Associated Press, Inland Press, the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, and others. He is also a member of Investigative Reporters & Editors. Kittle's extensive series on Wisconsin's unconstitutional John Doe investigations was the basis of a 2014 documentary on Glenn Beck's TheBlaze. His work has been featured in Town Hall, Fox News, NewsMax, and other national publications, and his reporting has been cited by news outlets nationwide. Kittle is a fill-in talk show host on the Jay Weber Show and the Vicki McKenna Show in Milwaukee and Madison.