AMVETS: We do not support the VoteVets VA lawsuit

Eric Dehm
May 03, 2018 - 10:09 am

DOD photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley

During his weekly appearance on the Morning Briefing radio show, AMVETS Executive Director Joe Chenelly made the organization's first statement on the recently announced lawsuit filed by several groups, including VoteVets and Democracy Forward, who challenged the appointment of  Robert Wilkie to the position of Acting Secretary of the VA.

"We are not in favor of this lawsuit and we are not in support of this lawsuit," Chenelly said.

The suit, which focuses on the legality of Wilkie, who serves as the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, being appointed over VA Deputy Secretary Tom Bowman. While AMVETS acknowledges that the guidelines for the process would appear to point to Bowman having been the correct appointee to the temporary top leadership at the VA, which they addressed at the time of Wilkie's appointment, they see the possibility of Wilkie's forced removal as yet another unnecessary setback for the beleaguered department. While they initially called for Wilkie's removal, at this point AMVETS leadership believes the need for stability, even temporarily, is enough reason to have him continue on. 

"We believe that he's doing a good job at this point," Chenelly said. "And so we don't see any reason not to."

One of the concerns about Wilkie's appointment brought up in AMVETS original statement is that if Wilkie's appointment was shown to be illegal, any contracts signed during his tenure would be ivalidated. This is a major concern, as it comes at a time when several big ticket items are on the horizon for the VA, including the Electronic Healthcare Record and Choice programs, though less so after a visit to the White House. 

"We asked about this yesterday," Chenelly said of the conversation with the administration. "The contracts will actually be signed, if the decision is to move forward with him, it'll be signed by a contracting officer, not by the Acting Secretary."

You can listen to the audio of the segment of the interview focusing on the lawsuit below. To download and listen later, click Share and select Download from the available options.