Former VA director wins U.S. appeals case relating to wait-time scandal

A former director of the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Phoenix linked to the VA wait time scandal has won a victory in federal court concerning her termination.

The U.S. Court of the Appeals for the Federal Circuit, on May 9, ruled that Sharon M. Helman can appeal her dismissal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, despite her criminal conviction in a separate court case.

Helman was fired in November 2014 following the scandal over long wait times for veterans seeking medical care and secret lists covering up the delays, and was sentenced to probation in federal court after previously pleading guilty to making false statements regarding the scandal. 

She later sued the VA on the grounds that her wait-time scandal case was unconstitutional and denied her the opportunity to appeal her firing because of procedures under the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act that prevented MSPB from hearing her case.

The opinion shuts down a provision in the law that expedites the removal of VA executives found guilty of misconduct or gross incompetence.

The court agreed with Helman that the provision violated the Constitution's so-called "appointments clause" by giving too much power with an administrative judge.

“We remand for the MSPB to take appropriate action on Ms. Helman’s petition for review of the administrative judge’s initial decision,” the opinion states.

Reader comments

Fri, May 19, 2017 DocSanchez SF

She got off?? Wow...So much for genuine accountability in VA...the former Sec. set up the Office of Accountability Review, a useless sub-agency if this case is any the Prez created yet another useless internal VA agency--for "Accountability"? Yeah, right...pull this leg, it plays 'Jingle Bells'...

Wed, May 10, 2017 Paul Tibbutts DC

Your in the money now. Start up a contracting company and roll in the money...

Wed, May 10, 2017 Sergio CA (Veteran)

She wasn't railroaded, she lied and pleaded guilty. She deserves to be in jail. She put Vets at risk and got paid for it from an consulting firm trying to do business with the VA. Really, railroaded, take the blinders off.

Wed, May 10, 2017 not a VA customer Detroit

Oh the irony! The 3 judges which provided the opinion were of the opinion that the VACA law, which was passed by Congress & signed by the President, gave too much power to a judge.

Wed, May 10, 2017

Gus - do you know anything about the case? Or are you just a Vet hating liberal? Not only did she preside over the purposeful misreporting of wait times, she plead guilty to lying about receiving $50K in gifts from a lobbyist. You are supporting a lying sociopath!

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Edward A. Zurndorfer Certified Financial Planner
Mike Causey Columnist
Tom Fox VP for Leadership and Innovation, Partnership for Public Service
Mathew B. Tully Legal Analyst

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