First firings at the VA. Nothing stopped Obama or any of his predecessors from doing this during their terms, but it took Trump to get it started.
Two notoriously corrupt employees in Puerto Rico were fired this week, indicating that more may be on the way.
One is the hospital’s CEO, DeWayne Hamlin, who offered an employee $305,000 to quit after she played a role in exposing his drug arrest.
“Mr. DeWayne Hamlin was removed from federal service effective January 20, 2017”–inauguration day–the VA said.
The other person fired recently is a woman who took part in an armed robbery, then kept her job while she was in jail, and continued to work in the hospital’s security office while wearing an ankle bracelet.
After TheDCNF broke the story, administrators told Congress it wasn’t true and Elizabeth Rivera Rivera had been fired, before backtracking and claiming that it was impossible to fire employees for off-duty crimes.
Outside lawyers ridiculed this explanation, and spokesmen at the time would not say why she wasn’t simply fired for missing work because she was in jail.
She was suddenly fired Tuesday for misconduct, including being absent without leave and failing to disclose other arrests on her job application, which her background check apparently did not catch.
The hospital has numerous other felons on staff in positions where that background is relevant, and the hospital has simply ignored questions about why. The precedent set this week may suggest that their backgrounds may finally be considered by the VA.
Among them, Tito Santiago Martinez, a human resources official in charge of hiring and disciplining at the facility, is a convicted sex offender who said “there’s no children in [the hospital], so they figure I could not harm anyone here.” The employees union uses his status as leverage to keep rank-and-file employees who run into trouble with the law on the job.
Braxton Linton is a high-level manager in charge of buying prosthetics such as hearing aids, often with government-issued credit cards. He was hired just weeks after release from federal prison for stealing $70,000 using credit card info he lifted from his previous employer. He also been arrested on drug charges while working for the VA, and it is unclear whether he disclosed those arrests to his employer.
Past criminal behavior has been shown to be a predictor of future conduct. In 2011 the hospital also hired a man who had a criminal record for illegal firearms in 2007. Last year he was killed in a shootout suspected to be related to drug dealing. He was carrying his own illegal gun again, but didn’t manage to fire first.