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Report: Sen. Baldwin fires staffer over 'Candy Land'

Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinSenate Democrats offer bill to scrap tax break for investment managers Senate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap House Dems to unveil drug pricing measure ahead of Biden package MORE (D-Wis.) has reportedly fired one of her senior aides for mishandling whistleblower allegations about a Veterans Affairs hospital in her state where painkillers were prescribed “like candy.”

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Monday that Baldwin dismissed Marquette Baylor — her deputy state director and chief of her Milwaukee office — last week for mishandling constituent claims about the VA hospital in Tomah.

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Baylor also allegedly received a severance to stay quiet on the matter.

Baldwin, who last year called on the VA inspector general to look into anonymous complaints about the use of prescription painkillers at the site, has come under scrutiny in recent days for not moving fast enough to look into the watchdog’s findings, which were delivered to her office in August.

She seemingly owned up to that charge on Sunday in a statewide op-ed.

"In the fall, as we weighed next steps and additional concerns about problems at the Tomah VA were brought to our attention, we should have done a better job listening to and communicating with another constituent with whom we were working on problems at the VA," she wrote.

"I take full responsibility for any mistakes we made because I not only share his belief that the report's conclusion fell short, but I also share his commitment to exposing problems at the VA and working on solutions," Baldwin added.
 
Whistleblower Ryan Honl told the Green Bay Press Gazette that Baldwin's chief of staff traveled back to the Badger State last week to deal with the growing fallout.
 
Baldwin last week wrote to the leaders of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, urging them to hold a hearing on the Tomah hospital and overmedication throughout the VA medical network.
 
Two weeks ago, VA Secretary Robert McDonald told Baldwin his agency was launching an investigation into the facility. He also removed the hospital’s chief of staff and barred him from seeing patients and writing prescriptions.

Bill Murat, Baldwin's chief of staff, says the office does not comment on personnel matters.