MADISON – In the run-up to Wisconsin’s GOP convention this weekend, a conservative group is running a nearly half-million dollar television ad critical of U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and her handling of the scandal at the Tomah Veterans Affairs facility.
“When Tammy Baldwin’s office found out about serious problems at a VA facility, she did nothing,” the ad says. “When her inaction was exposed, she quickly blamed it on a staffer.”
The television ad will total $465,000 and the group running it, Restoration PAC, is also running additional digital ads.
Baldwin supporter and U.S. Army veteran Mark Andersen said the attack against Baldwin was unfair.
“I’ve been following politics in this state for years, and none of our leaders have done more for veterans than Senator Baldwin — especially on the issue of opioids at the VA,” he said in a statement.
The facility at Tomah came under fire in January 2015, when a report by the Center for Investigative Reporting detailed high levels of opioid prescriptions at the facility. Marine Corps veteran Jason Simcakoski died at the Tomah facility in August 2014 as a result of “mixed drug toxicity.”
Between April and June of 2014, Baldwin wrote letters to the Tomah VA director, a VA official in Washington and the VA inspector general in Washington and asked for investigations into the abuse of opioids that had been been prescribed by the facility.
But Baldwin has been criticized because she took no action between Aug. 29, 2014 — the day before Simcakoski’s death, when her office received an inspection report documenting the overprescribing of opioids at Tomah — and January 2015, when the Center for Investigative Reporting revealed the circumstances of his death and Baldwin called for an investigation.