WASHINGTON — Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., is introducing legislation in the House Wednesday that would bar inspectors general in the federal government from keeping from the public the findings of their investigations.
The bill is co-sponsored by every other House member from Wisconsin, a rare bipartisan feat in a typically polarized delegation that could help the bill’s chances for passage.
Kind said he is angry the inspector general at the Veterans Affairs Department failed to release findings last year of an investigation into opiate prescriptions at the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Wisconsin.
The inspector completed the probe in March 2014 but did not release the findings or notify Kind, whose complaint triggered the investigation. Five months later, 35-year-old Marine Corps veteran Jason Simcakoski died from “mixed drug toxicity” as an inpatient at Tomah.
“We could have taken much sooner action if we had a little bit more candidness about all this,” Kind said in an interview this week.
USA TODAY reported last month that the VA inspector general had also withheld from the public the findings of 140 other investigations of veteran health care across the country since 2006. The inspector has since started releasing those reports. Of 23 from last year, six contain substantiated allegations and two involved veterans who were harmed or died.