- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Veterans Affairs hospital driver was fired shortly after exposing credit card misuse and the bizarre disappearance of 30 vehicles.

The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations is demanding to know how 30 of 88 vehicles at a VA in Los Angeles disappeared, along with details surrounding the firing of whistleblower Anthony Salazar.

Robert Benkeser, a manager at the Greater Los Angeles VA who makes more than $140,000 per year, terminated Mr. Salazar in February 2015, not long after the whistleblower exposed theft and mismanagement at the hospital.

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC), a government agency created to protect whistleblowers, said earlier this month that the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) imposed upon Mr. Salazar “an overly rigorous” standard of proof to show prohibited retaliation, The Daily Caller reported Wednesday. The driver had been placed on a “performance improvement plan” shortly before Mr. Benkeser terminated his employment.

Rep. Mike Coffman, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, addressed the issue during an Aug. 18 hearing, The Daily Caller reported. The Colorado Republican demanded to know why an Administrative Investigation Board (AIB) only saw fit to issue Mr. Benkeser a “letter of counseling” for mismanaging the hospital’s motor pool.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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