WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, received confirmation that Kuauhtemoc Rodriguez, a Department of Veterans Affairs whistleblower seeking a transfer to a new VA facility after allegations of retaliation, has been re-assigned to a new facility at the same pay level. The VA initially offered to transfer him but only at a lower pay level, known as a “GS-level,” the predominant pay scale for employees of the federal government.
In October of 2017, Grassley and Johnson wrote a letter to then-U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, asking him to respond to allegations of severe retaliation of a Phoenix VA Health Care System whistleblower who reported serious patient waitlist improprieties at the facility. The retaliation allegations included moving the whistleblower to a closet repurposed as an office without proper air conditioning for almost two years, unlawful access of his medical records, verbal and physical threats of violence and bullying, the vandalizing of his car and an ordered appearance before a review board in an attempt to fire him.
“Good governance doesn’t happen by itself. Whistleblowers play a critical role in exposing waste, fraud and abuse in federal agencies at an extreme personal risk. As a longtime advocate for transparency in government, I’m grateful for the work of Mr. Rodriguez, and so many other whistleblowers, and am pleased that Senator Johnson and I could assist him in his efforts to relocate and work in a safe, professional environment,” Grassley said.
“Protecting whistleblowers is critical to ending waste, fraud and abuse throughout the federal government. Mr. Rodriguez deserves praise for coming forward. He did the right thing for our veterans, and I am pleased to learn that he will be transferred and be able to continue his service to our country. I’d like to thank Sen. Grassley for his commitment toward making this result a reality,” Johnson said.
Grassley and Johnson are founding members of the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus.