Rep. Corrine Brown doesn't see any scandal in how the Department of Veterans Affairs is run.
The Florida Democrat -- who ranks second among her party's contingent on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee -- said Wednesday at a hearing that "I did my reconnaissance in Florida. I can tell you we're doing fine in Florida." She went on to say, "I went and talked to various veteran groups in Florida, and [received] not one single complaint because we're doing our job."
She must not have been paying close attention.
Three days earlier, Tony D'Aleo, the chapter president of Vietnam Veterans of America in Brown's hometown of Jacksonville, told local Fox station WAWS that "we have members in our chapter that have been three and four years waiting for a claim. They're going to die. They're honestly going to die.”
Brown also represents Gainesville, where earlier this month three VA administrators were placed on leave following the discovery of a secret mental health waiting list similar to those found at other VA facilities across the nation. Thomas Wisnieski, director of the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System, says the list was not "secret" per se, but that he did not know about it until investigators unearthed it during a hospital visit.
In other parts of the state, complaints are pouring in. Thomas Fiore, who works for the VA police department in South Florida, blew the whistle on clinics in Miami. Fiore alleges malfeasance ranging from drug dealing on hospital property -- "anything from your standard prescription drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, and of course marijuana, cocaine, heroin" -- to patient abuse in VA nursing homes.
Fiore was instructed to stop investigating these claims by hospital administrators. He was later reassigned from the VA police department to a clerical position.
An email obtained by CBS4 News supports the notion that the Miami VA is not operating as it should. The email, sent in February by cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Tomer Karas to the VA's chief of surgery, claims that mismanagement of hospital equipment was leading to deaths: “I understand that patients have died in our cath lab due to inability to offer a higher level of support," Karas wrote.
A spokesman for the VA claims Karas was wrong and has retracted the claim.
Adding to the VA's woes, Florida Governor Rick Scott announced Wednesday the state will sue the Department of Veteran Affairs for "stonewalling" state inspectors. Florida inspectors have been turned away from VA facilities in Tampa and Seminole.