VA Manager at the Center of Phoenix Scandal Gets Fired

It only took six months of taxpayer-funded leave...

Department of Veterans Affairs officials on Monday said they had “formally removed,” Sharon Helman, the director of the Phoenix VA Health Care System, where the largest nationwide scandal in the agency’s history first came to light this summer.

Helman has been on paid administrative leave for nearly six months, following findings that employees at her hospital lied about health-care wait times for former troops seeking treatment for everything from cancer to post-traumatic stress disorder.

The action comes amid complaints from a growing chorus of Republicanswho said the agency was not acting quickly enough to discipline officials responsible for the wrongdoing, despite legislation this summer to expedite the process for firing VA senior executives.

“This removal action underscores VA’s commitment to hold leaders accountable and ensure that Veterans have access to quality and timely care,” the agency said in a short e-mailed statement.

The Justice Department had signaled that Helman's firing would be fine, on Nov. 6. The VA had claimed that it could not legally fire her, because the scandal was still under FBI investigation.

Weeks before that, in October, the VA had officially recommended firing four officials who were involved in the scandal -- but Helman was not on that list.