Reporting Mike Krauser
ITASCA, Ill. (CBS) – Five days before the election, Republican Congressman Joe Walsh said his Democratic opponent, Tammy Duckworth, needs to come clean about her treatment of two state workers when she headed the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs. But Duckworth said she is “disgusted” that Walsh has been trying to use veterans’ issues for political gain.
WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports Walsh demanded Duckworth explain why she fired one VA employee, and allegedly threatened another, after the two claim they complained to her about what they believe was illegal campaign activity by their boss.
“We’re five days before an election, and Miss Duckworth refuses to answer these questions,” Walsh said at a news conference in Itasca.
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Duckworth said a lawsuit filed by the two workers has been tossed out twice as a nuisance suit, and said she can’t go into detail about the case, since the litigation is still pending.
“But I can tell you how I operate. People can count on me. If I find a government employee who’s not doing his or her job, who is wasting taxpayer dollars, I will not hesitate to get rid of that person,” Duckworth said in a phone interview.
Walsh was also joined by Florida Republican Congressman Jeff Miller, who chairs the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, and accused Duckworth of an extravagant waste of taxpayer money while she was assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
“The VA conference budget for one year is $100 million,” he said.
Miller claimed the VA spent $2.5 million for bureaucrats to attend the National Veterans Golden Age Games in Hawaii, a trip he said Duckworth planned.
Miller stood with Walsh at a news conference in Itasca, where Walsh suggested Duckworth might face a subpoena.
“Miss Duckworth has had, at best, a failed career as a bureaucrat; both at the Illinois VA, and at the federal VA. Her tenure at both of these positions deserves to be examined,” Walsh said.
Duckworth said Walsh and Miller are using veterans issues for political purposes.
“Veterans’ issues are too sacred to be used for political gain, and I am simply disgusted by Mr. Walsh and Mr. Miller, two men who have never worn the uniform,” she said.