undated file photo shows the Tomah Veterans Affairs
Medical Center in Tomah, Wis. Republican Sen. Ron
Johnson, in the midst of a tough re-election battle,
plans to release a report Tuesday detailing a Senate
committee's yearlong investigation into a drug scandal
at Tomah's medical facility known as "Candy
Land." Tomah has already been a flash point in
Johnson's campaign against Democrat Russ Feingold, with
both sides running attack ads blaming each other for not
doing enough to prevent abuses at the facility in
Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, in the midst of a tough
re-election battle, plans to release a report next week
detailing a congressional committee's yearlong investigation
into a painkiller-abuse scandal at Tomah's Veterans Affairs
medical facility, which was once known as "Candy
already been a flashpoint in Johnson's race against Democrat
Russ Feingold, with attack ads blaming each other for not
doing enough to prevent abuses at the facility in western
Wisconsin. Johnson earlier this month said that he's done
nothing to politicize issues at Tomah; the ad campaign
attacking Feingold came from an independent group backing
hearing is the second in Tomah in 14 months by the Senate
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which
Johnson chairs. He said in a Friday interview with CNN that
committee's report will lay out all the details about what's
happened in Tomah and why "people just didn't do anything
for the VA in 2014 found that doctors were over-prescribing
opioid painkillers, leading to the "Candy Land"
nickname by some veterans. The deaths of three people who were
cared for at Tomah remain under investigation. The VA probe
also determined there was an atmosphere of fear among staff
members, which affected patient care, and that those who spoke
out were subject to intimidation.
VA officials — including former director Mario Desanctis and
former chief of staff David Houlihan — have since been
fired. Houlihan was nicknamed "candy man" by some
patients for allegedly handing out excess narcotics.
this March 31st file photo, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.,
right, speaks during a Joint Hearing of the Committee on
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the U.S.
Senate and the Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the
U.S. House of Representatives in Tomah, Wis. Johnson, in
the midst of a tough re-election battle, plans to
release a report Tuesday detailing a Senate committee's
yearlong investigation into a drug scandal at Tomah's
Veterans Affairs medical facility known as "Candy
officials from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs were
expected to provide an update on Tomah's current state on
Tuesday, as well as comment on the committee's report.
group backing Johnson, funded by conservative billionaires
Charles and David Koch, has been running $2 million worth of
television ads and billboards in Wisconsin accusing Feingold
of ignoring concerns about Tomah when he was in the Senate,
specifically a 2009 Tomah employees' union memo detailing
alleged over-prescription abuse at the facility.
veterans deserve real answers and real care — not the
political exploitation we've seen from Senator Johnson and his
allies in recent weeks," said Feingold's campaign
spokesman Michael Tyler. "In Tuesday's hearing, Senator
Johnson has a chance to move away from politicizing his
committee chairmanship, finally accept some accountability,
and focus on the reforms and resources needed to provide
Wisconsin's veterans with the care that they've earned."
official who wrote that memo, Lin Ellinghuysen, told The
Associated Press in an email that it is a "total
lie" that Feingold received the memo when he was in the
sad to see those who know better stand by and let false ads
like this run in Wisconsin," she said in an email, adding
that she told Johnson's committee in 2015 that Feingold never
got the memo.
Johnson's staff knows these ads and their allegations are
untrue," she said.
asked about the ad earlier this month, said he has not
politicized the issue. But he did not call on the independent
group supporting him to take the ad down.
actually believe in freedom of speech," Johnson said
responded with a television ad of his own saying Johnson
ignored complaints in 2014 from a former employee at Tomah,
who is now backing Johnson because of how he's responding to
the issue. That whistleblower, Ryan Honl, appears in the
Freedom Partners Action Fund super PAC ad attacking Feingold.
campaign spokesman Brian Reisinger said launching the
investigation and "shining the light of day on
Tomah" shows he is taking "effective action."
done his job," Reisinger said. "It is Senator
Feingold who is politicizing tragedies."