Embattled U.S. Sen. Mark Udall is so proud of himself for allegedly leading the calls for Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki’s head from the left. That’s all well and good, but he’s about a month too late. Udall’s calls for Shinseki’s resignation now, when it’s politically opportunistic, is like that annoying guy at the bar who offers to pay the bar tab after it’s already been charged to someone else’s card.
Udall claims that his call for Shinseki’s resignation has to do with the new Inspector General’s report that showed just how bad things are, but let’s be honest. His new-found outrage over treatment of veterans is more likely due to polling that shows this to be a winning issue. And his claims of leading? Yeah, he’s really late on this one. U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman first called for Shinseki to resign on May 5, 2014, but Coffman’s investigation of VA hospital care has been ongoing for over a year. Where was Mark Udall?
On May 5th, while Coffman and veterans groups were calling for Shinseki’s resignation, Udall was sending out press releases here and here about Cinco de Mayo and a third press release about the sage grouse. Meanwhile, sick veterans were waiting and waiting for care.
Coffman may be more acutely aware of this situation as a combat veteran; however, Udall even lagged behind his 2014 opponent, U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, who called for Shinseki’s resignation on May 8.
Further, Udall, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, sent a letter to Shinseki that clearly shows Udall understood the magnitude of the problems in the VA. Here’s what his press release stated on May 14:
“Mr. Secretary, your experience as a senior military leader makes you ideally suited to resolve many of the challenges currently facing VA,” Udall wrote in his letter. “Unfortunately, given evidence of mismanagement on multiple fronts in Colorado and across the nation, it appears that you have either been shielded from the realities on the ground or have decided to keep your distance from critical issues and delegate site visits to others. In either case, the VA is suffering from an absence of public leadership and is foundering as a result.”
Udall’s letter pressed Shinseki to address the larger structural and leadership issues within the VA and to personally visit Colorado to address “the emerging pattern of mismanagement and a perceived lack of accountability [that] threaten to erode the faith and trust our veterans have in the care they receive from VA.”
This is just another example of Mark Udall refusing to fight for Coloradans until it’s politically popular. The fact that Udall is trying to score political points for being nearly a month late in calling for Shinseki’s resignation is shameful. But, the fact, that veterans had to wait an extra month for someone to fight for them in Colorado in the U.S. Senate is disgusting.