Pete Hegseth, new finance chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota, explained to a Republican seniors group Tuesday in Bloomington that he wears three hats: chief fund-raiser for the GOP, contributor to Fox News, and CEO of Concerned Veterans for America.
Hegseth, 33, an Iraq War veteran and Bronze Star medalist, will wear the third hat Thursday when he testifies before the U.S. Senate Veteran Affairs committee on the VA Management Accountability Act, a bill that passed the House overwhelmingly with bipartisan support.
“It’s long overdue that there be some real accountability in the Department of Veterans Affairs, meaning that not a single senior executive has been fired even since the Phoenix VA scandal because it nearly impossible to fire a top-level government employee,” Hegseth said in an interview.
The reform legislation, H.R. 4031, was prompted by an Inspector General’s report that a VA facility in Phoenix had manipulated records on waiting times for medical care, an investigation that has expanded to other facilities nationwide.
HR 4031 is a three-page bill that gives the Secretary of Veterans Affairs the authority to remove managers who are failing in their duties. “It is not a partisan issue, it is about — do you defend the status quo or are you going to be for reform in a department that badly needs it,” Hegseth said.
But for the Republican Seniors of Minnesota, Hegseth, a U.S. Senate candidate in 2010, put a partisan spin on the VA problems. “The Department of Veterans Affairs is probably the best preview anywhere of what government-run, top-down, single-payer health care looks like,” he told the group. “No choice, no transparency of cost, lots of bureaucracy.”
Concerned Veterans for America is part of a network of conservative advocacy groups backed by Charles and David Koch. The group has launched a campaign of letters, phone calls and advertising aimed at five Democratic senators, urging them to support the reform legislation. The ad campaign also praises Democrats who voted for the bill in the House.