VA Secretary nominee Jackson accused of wrecking government vehicle, reckless prescribing
Prospective Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr. Ronny Jackson is facing detailed allegations over his behavior as White House physician, including that he earned the nickname "Candyman" for allegedly reckless prescribing practices, as the Senate delays his confirmation hearing.
Democratic staff from the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs on Wednesday released a scathing summary of interviews with 23 "colleagues and former colleagues" of Jackson, with accusations ranging from allegedly wrecking a government vehicle after getting drunk at a Secret Service party to being described as "vindictive" and "dishonest."
Senate VA Committee Chair Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Ranking Democrat Jon Tester (Mont.) on Tuesday delayed Jackson's slated confirmation hearing in light of allegations.
The Democratic staff summary noted that multiple individuals alleged Jackson would hand out Ambien and Provigil on Air Force One without completing paperwork for the controlled medications.
The Trump administration said Wednesday that the White House Military Unit undergoes regular audits and that in the most recent audit of controlled substances, outside experts "provided undisputable support that Dr. Jackson worked within the official guidelines while providing world class care to two presidential administrations."
The memo also included statements from Jackson's colleagues and former colleagues calling him "the most unethical person I have ever worked with" and "flat-out unethical." The committee staff did not provide specific instances of hostile work environments created by Jackson, citing concerns that it would reveal identities.
The committee staff also cite "multiple incidents of drunkenness on duty."
White House officials have framed the allegations as the result of bad will of a disgruntled former colleague of Jackson's.
"Dr. Jackson's record as a White House physician is impeccable," a senior White House official said. "He has improved unit morale, received glowing reviews and promotions under Republican and Democrat presidents, and has been given a clean vet from the FBI. He has never even been the subject of an Inspector General review and he will certainly not be railroaded by a bitter ex-colleague who was removed from his job."
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), a key VA committee member who has worked closely on the VA Choice legislation, said that he is taking the allegations against Jackson seriously but is still looking for "any written documents related to Jackson's tenure" at the White House.
"What's missing in my view is someone out front and vocal, and a name associated with these circumstances," Moran said.
The White House closed ranks around Jackson on Tuesday afternoon, declassifying documents about the nominee that included an Inspector General summary of a "command climate" assessment of the White House Medical Unit from 2012 that includes scathing comments about the leadership.
According to the document, Jackson blamed the bad environment on the transition from a former leader whom he described as "passive-aggressive" and "vindictive."
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