Veterans group ad hits Hillary on VA scandal

A veterans advocacy group is launching a new ad targeting comments from Hillary Clinton they believe downplayed the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) scandal.

Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) committed six figures to the 30-second spot, which will air in early voting states South Carolina and Florida.

Clinton, the Democratic primary front-runner, said last month that protracted delays at VA hospitals have “not been as widespread” as coverage of the scandal would indicate.

{mosads}The ad opens with newspaper headlines discussing the long wait times faced by veterans and worries that some may have died waiting for medical care. It then replays Clinton’s comments.

“Not widespread?” the ad asks, “Our veterans deserve better. Fight for those who fought for us.”

It closes by encouraging viewers to contact lawmakers and support the VA Accountability Act, which is intended to improve standards at the agency by making it easier to remove poorly performing officials.

“Veterans and politicians agree — Mrs. Clinton’s remarks about the VA and veterans’ care were callous, dismissive and painfully out of touch,” CVA CEO Pete Hegseth said in a statement on Friday about the new ad.

“The mentality her statements reflect is exactly what led to the widespread scandals at the VA in the first place.”

Critics pounced on Clinton’s remarks, with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) also saying Clinton owed an apology to the “families of the veterans who lost their loved ones.”

CVA, which is largely funded by groups tied to the conservative donors Charles and David Koch, says Congress must do more to address the scandal.

“It is time for Congress to approve this commonsense legislation that would hold VA employees to the same standards as millions of hard-working Americans across the country, and in the process ensure veterans receive the highest quality of care,” Hegseth said.

A super PAC supporting Clinton said the ad shows the Koch brothers are “terrified” about the former first lady’s presidential campaign.

“Clinton is standing in their way, and the Koch brothers will use every trick in the book to try to take her down,” Correct the Record said in a statement on Friday.

The revelation that VA officials hid long patient wait times and that some veterans died sparked bipartisan anger and led to Congress to pass reforms last year.

The beleaguered agency now finds itself in a controversy over relocation expenses for employees.

An Inspector General report found the senior officials had inappropriately charged the VA for hundreds of thousands of dollars in relocation expenses after intentionally creating and filling vacancies in various regional offices.

Two top VA executives alleged to have defrauded the agency invoked their Fifth Amendment rights and refused to testify before the House Veterans Affairs Committee on Monday.

Another top official at the hearing said it had become “impossible” to fire VA employees, noting that the two senior officials were still employed.

-Updated 1:09 p.m.

Tags Hillary Clinton John McCain

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