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Biden’s pick for a top VA role faces tough Senate confirmation battle after scathing review

Source image: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/biden-pick-va-role-faces-tough-senate-confirmation-battle-scathing-review

The full Senate is expected to vote on President Joe Biden’s nominee for the number-two spot at the Department of Veterans Affairs, shortly after the completion of a scathing review that shows a VA recordkeeping system that she oversees risks exposing sensitive personal information on veterans and agency employees. 

Last month, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee advanced the nomination of Tanya Bradsher, current chief of staff to VA Secretary Denis McDonough, to be deputy secretary by a vote of 13-6. The Senate came back into session this week. 

In her current role, Bradsher has had authority over the VA Integrated Enterprise Workflow Solution Case and Correspondence Management, also known as the VIEWS CCM system, which a recent review conducted by the department’s Office of Information Technology determined had serious flaws — but was improving.

Peter C. Rizzo, a certified fraud examiner and former VA program manager, was one three VA whistleblowers who raised concerns about the system.

6 WOKE BIDEN POLICIES AT VETERANS AFFAIRS THAT REPUBLICANS ARE MOVING TO DISMANTLE

Tanya Bradsher VA deputy nominee

Major Tanya Bradsher is Biden’s nominee for the number-two spot at the VA. She is an Army veteran, seen here sorting mail for soldiers stationed overseas in 2005. (Chung Sung-Jun)

“The president nominated this individual who was responsible for maintaining this system,” Rizzo told Fox News Digital. “I certainly wouldn’t want someone of her caliber in the number-two spot at the VA. The VA and our nation’s veterans deserve better.”

Nevertheless, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., scheduled a cloture vote on Bradsher for 5:30 p.m. on Monday.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, issued a statement late Thursday explaining his opposition to the nomination that he has previously blocked.

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“If confirmed, Ms. Bradsher would be in charge of the VA’s effort to modernize veterans’ electronic health record,” Grassley said. “This involves the healthcare records of millions of veterans, which obviously contain huge amounts of sensitive information. Ms. Bradsher’s failures on privacy issues as chief of staff and her lack of transparency to the Veterans Affairs Committee show that we can’t trust her to secure this sensitive information or to take the lead and address agency failures, of which VA has many.” 

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer speaks

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., scheduled a cloture vote on Bradsher for 5:30 p.m. on Monday. (Kevin Dietsch)

In August 2022, the Office of Special Counsel — an independent agency that investigates whistleblower disclosures — requested the VA investigate privacy concerns about the VIEWS system. The VA’s Office of Information Technology conducted the investigation and submitted its report in July of this year to the Office of Special Counsel. The report has not yet been made public, but the OSC is expected to issue the report at a later date. A VA spokesperson did not comment on the record for this story.

The more than 2,000 VA employees who have access to the VIEWS have the option of marking documents “sensitive” or “not sensitive” for veterans and employees. According to congressional sources, the VA internal review estimates that the number of “not sensitive” records with personal information that should have been marked “sensitive” were in the “multi-thousands.” 

The department’s internal review says that VA employees with access to the VIEWS systems “can view, download, copy, screenshot, or otherwise share sensitive information – e.g., whistleblower and veteran social security numbers, dates of birth, home addresses and phone numbers and medical and financial information.” 

The internal review determined that remediation measures in July 2023 “significantly reduced the accessibility of whistleblower identities and sensitive personal information.”

Veteran affairs logo

Department of Veterans affairs logo. (Michael Siluk)

However, it also noted that “there is no program of auditing or detection in place to measure the effectiveness of applied changes, or to flag when a user views whistleblower identities and sensitive personal information without authority or fails to protect such information by not setting the appropriate case sensitivity marker.” 

Bradsher wrote to Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, in a May saying: “the VIEWS system has controls in place to protect personal and sensitive information . . . system access is logged. Audits also are done to make sure information on the VIEWS system is accessed appropriately.” 

This answer clearly conflicts with the report’s assertion that no audit system is in place, Grassley said in a statement. 

“The VA’s report further calls Ms. Bradsher’s candor into question. It seems to directly contradict Ms. Bradsher’s answers to questions for the record in her committee proceedings,” Grassley said. “It looks like Ms. Bradsher has some explaining to do.” 

Sen. Chuck Grassley speaks into mircrophone during hearing

Sen. Grassley said that “it looks like Ms. Bradsher has some explaining to do” about her conflicting answer. (Al Drago)

The review stated: “Privacy issues with VIEWS CCM have been reported to VA officials responsible for VIEWS CCM by multiple persons and offices since 2019.” However, in her written response to questions from Moran, Bradsher said she “first became aware there were concerns about the VIEWS systems shortly after certain VA employees approached the deputy chief of staff in July 2022.”

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The internal VA report says that “there has been no effort to hold violators accountable.”  

The review further says department whistleblowers believe that “sharing of this information has resulted in the mistreatment by managers and co-workers.” However, the review also says that “there is no evidence that VIEWS vulnerabilities discussed in this report resulted in a privacy breach or have caused harm to veterans, whistleblowers, or their families.” 

But Rizzo contends that the privacy breach from VIEWS facilitated the attempt to silence department whistleblowers. Last year, he notified colleague Kristen Ruell, a 15-year veteran of the VA, that her information could be found in the VIEWS system. Ruell has been a whistleblower in cases of duplicate payments, exposing improper shredding of mail and reported improper treatment of employees. 

Joe Biden speaking from podium

The full Senate is expected to vote on President Joe Biden’s nominee for the number two-spot at the Department of Veterans Affairs. (Patrick Semansky)

VIEWS showed her whistleblower communications to members of Congress, the VA Office of Inspector General and other VA officials. She also noted that her Social Security number, date of birth and other sensitive and personal information had been published in VIEWS and marked not sensitive, so that other VA employees could access the information.

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“When I whistleblew in the past, I always thought it was strange that the people I reported found out that I reported them within hours,” Ruell said. “One person actually contacted me and asked why I reported them. Now it all makes sense. The emails that I sent are still in VIEWS and as of the date of the report still viewable to any VIEWS user.” 

Bradsher was a 20-year Army veteran and has been a public affairs official for the White House National Security Council, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security. 

Source: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/biden-pick-va-role-faces-tough-senate-confirmation-battle-scathing-review

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Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC backs candidate who signed ‘Black New Deal’ demanding reparations

The House’s leading progressive political arm is throwing its weight behind a candidate who signed onto a “Black New Deal” that contained radical demands such as reparations, eliminating school officers and stopping criminal enforcement during the pandemic, Fox News Digital has found.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC, whose House counterpart is guided by Reps. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, wired $5,000 to California Democrat candidate Lateefah Simon’s campaign in early August, according to recently released filings. 

Simon is the first 2024 candidate the group endorsed. She’s attempting to fill Democrat Rep. Barbara Lee’s seat, who is running for the U.S. Senate.

“With more than a quarter century of work organizing for civil rights and social justice, Lateefah Simon is a proven leader and the best candidate to represent California’s 12th congressional district,” the PAC’s co-chairs, including Jayapal, wrote in their endorsement. “Lateefah’s track record speaks for itself – she has effected material change in her community, championing critical progressive priorities like transit justice, economic equality, and women’s rights.”

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Lateefah Simon

Lateefah Simon, a longtime progressive activist, is running for Congress in California’s 12th District. (Lea Suzuki / San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images / File)

Simon, who Vice President Harris tapped to lead an initiative to reduce youth recidivism rates as San Francisco’s district attorney, is a longtime Oakland and Bay Area political activist and organizer.

The Democrat hopeful joined a cadre of liberal activists who used the pandemic to make extreme requests on public officials.

According to a letter on Justice Teams Network, which seeks to eradicate all forms of “State violence” and “criminal acts” against prisoners, the far-left coalition sought to implement dozens of radical initiatives.

In May 2020, Simon signed the letter alongside the likes of former Black Lives Matter leader Patrisse Cullors, which they had sent to elected and appointed officials with regard to concerns about how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted “Black people inequitably in Oakland and what the long-term consequences will be.”

It contained a link to its “Black New Deal,” which Simon had also co-signed, and stated that they remained committed to implementing those demands. The deal includes its most extensive list of orders, including “reparations for Black people,” which it categorizes as a long-term demand.

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Pramila Jayapal

Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal acts as a co-chair of their PAC. (Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images / File)

To the group, reparations include a laundry list of items such as “debt forgiveness, free education, free healthcare, enforcement of CA Slavery Era Insurance Registry & similar local slavery era disclosure ordinances including mandatory reporting, imposition of maximum fines & penalties, mandatory fund contribution from companies that have disclosed already, and distribution of funds to Black-led organizations serving Black populations.”

“Possibly even expand law to include profiteers from the housing/financial crisis and carceral systems,” the group wrote.

The Black New Deal also pushed for the likes of removing police from schools and ending cash bail. During the pandemic, specifically, the group wanted the “decarceration” of prisons, “ceasing police use of pandemic to conduct raids” and no National Guard or military enforcement, among other radical requests.

The Community Ready Corps and The Anti Police-Terror Project convened “a range of Black leaders” to develop the letter and its vast list of far-left demands.

Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota

Rep. Ilhan Omar co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus. (Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images / File)

Simon currently serves on the Bay Area Rapid Transit board of directors and is one of three candidates that the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC has endorsed for the 2024 election cycle, according to its website.

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During the 2022 election cycle, the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC raised more than $4 million and helped elect 17 people to Congress, the group says.

Simon’s campaign and the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC did not respond to a request for comment.

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Hold Biden accountable for broken border; impeach Mayorkas

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President Joe Biden’s dereliction of duty at the southern border is quite literally, destroying innocent American lives — and has the potential to put thousands more at risk.  

The situation at the southern border has degraded for years, if not decades. Yet, it shows signs, after four years of marked improvements under President Donald Trump’s administration, of sinking into a full-blown catastrophe.  

Americans are desperate for accountability, and it may be time for Congress to employ the full weight of constitutional action against the president and appropriate officials if they will not uphold their oaths of office. 

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Last month, it was revealed that the FBI has been attempting to track down members of a group of illegal migrants who were allowed to enter the country after requesting asylum. It was not until Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials cleared these migrants (as is standard protocol for thousands of illegal aliens every day), that the FBI discovered the connection of an ISIS-affiliated smuggler who was facilitating these travelers’ journey into the United States.  

Mayorkas grilled by the House Judiciary Committee

Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), speaks during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, DC, US, on Wednesday, July 26, 2023. The hearing is titled “Oversight of the US Department of Homeland Security.”  (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The FBI and other officials will tell everyone that this situation is proof that the system works, and that the federal government will eventually find out who is a potential threat to this nation and track them down in the homeland.  

However, Americans who have been witnessing the breakdown of law and order at the southern border know differently. The case of this ISIS-affiliated smuggler is likely one of countless security nightmares at the border taking place every month — and the Biden administration is allowing the chaos and lawlessness to get worse, not better. 

We know from U.S. Customs and Border Protection that the border patrol has encountered 146 suspected terrorists between ports of entry at the southern border just this fiscal year alone. This number is up from 98 in Fiscal Year 2022 and 15 in Fiscal Year 2021.  

There are also thousands of aliens who are arrested by border officials every year who have criminal records from previous stays in our country. Many of these criminals have committed very serious offenses in America, and yet they migrate back to our communities. 

Lest the government again inform you that the apprehension of these suspected terrorists and criminals is Exhibit A of the system working to perfection, the number of arrests from border officials is always a fraction of the total number of individuals crossing the border. 

Since Biden took the oath of office on January 20, 2021, more than 1.5 million illegal aliens (otherwise referred to as ‘gotaways’) have escaped apprehension by law enforcement, making their way into communities across the country.  

Their identities and motives are largely unknown to everyone in our government. There could very well be terrorists, gang members and hardened criminals setting up shop in a neighborhood near you — all due to the Biden administration’s refusal to enforce the laws and secure the border. 

With facts such as these, the debate over securing our border should be largely settled. All elected officials, regardless of their party affiliation, should desire to protect their constituents and come together to do what is right for our nation’s future.  

We know from U.S. Customs and Border Protection that the border patrol has encountered 146 suspected terrorists between ports of entry at the southern border just this fiscal year alone. This number is up from 98 in Fiscal Year 2022 and 15 in Fiscal Year 2021.  

Sadly, this has not been the United States’ reality for several years. Instead of upholding their oaths of office, politicians have decided to promote radical open-borders agendas that give complete deference to cartel killers over American boys and girls.  

The time for talk is now over. It’s clear that the Biden administration will not be moved from their acquiescence of lawlessness. Members of Congress have a constitutional obligation to hold this administration accountable and to show our constituents that we will do everything in our power to protect them and their communities.  

I’ve been supportive of efforts to impeach DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. His department is at the front lines of this border crisis, and his leadership has largely contributed to the utter collapse of the rule of law at our southern border. We may not be able to immediately turn around the border crisis, but we should assign guilt appropriately to whom it is due.  

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Biden wants to destroy America’s hunting, fishing heritage to satisfy the radical left

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In just three years under President Joe Biden, our hunting-and-fishing heritage is under attack in ways we could have never thought or imagined. 

Through the weaponization of federal agencies like the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and even the Department of Education, the Biden administration is pandering to the anti-hunting, anti-fishing extreme flank of supporters and launching an all-out assault on our outdoors way of life. 

With the help of Biden and the federal government, activists are pulling out all stops to not only chip away at our hunting-and-fishing heritage, but to abolish it altogether.  

SINEMA JOINS GOP SENATORS ON BILL TO REVERSE BIDEN ADMIN’S CRACKDOWN ON SCHOOL HUNTING, ARCHERY CLASSES

Maintaining their promises and commitments to extreme anti-hunting, anti-gun radicals, the Biden administration last year started a process to ban lead ammunition on federal public land. Through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, regulations were proposed that ban lead ammunition in national wildlife refuges across the country.  

father and son are hunting

President Theodore Roosevelt pioneered the North American model of conservation. Hunting and fishing remain a vital part of maintaining the outdoors. (iStock)

By all accounts, the action by the USFWS is the first step toward complete prohibition of lead ammunition and tackle on any public lands where you would hunt and fish. 

Earlier this year, the Biden administration blocked key federal funding under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) for schools with hunting and archery programs. This federal funding cut would negatively impact millions of American students who participate in those hunting and archery programs.  

According to the National Archery in the Schools Program, 1.3 million students from 9,000 schools across 49 states are enrolled in archery courses. The number of students participating in hunter education programs in our schools is even higher.

Beholden to radical activists, Biden’s Department of Education is depriving millions of kids of longstanding educational and enrichment programs that help foster relationships with role models, build self-esteem, and develop lifelong skills that last well beyond their school years.  

In fact, according to a Forbes report, many experts are warning that defunding hunting and archery programs will contribute to the current mental health crisis. 

While some try to downplay the federal government’s anti-outdoors agenda, the threat to our hunting and fishing way of life is very real. 

It is abundantly clear that the activists who want to put an end to our outdoor heritage are determined, but they should be warned: so are we. 

We won’t take this lying down. We are resolved. And we are willing to fight. 

The Biden administration is taking the first step toward complete prohibition of lead ammunition and tackle on any public lands where you would hunt and fish. (iStock)

The International Order of T. Roosevelt is a proactive hunting-and-conservation foundation focused on protecting the rights of hunters and sustaining the North American model of wildlife conservation.  

Through our advocacy arm, T. Roosevelt Action, we are in statehouses around the country promoting the right to hunt and encouraging states to push back against this anti-hunting, anti-fishing radicalism by securing a constitutional amendment enshrining their sacred right to hunt and fish.  

Successfully establishing a right to hunt in every state will play a direct role in ensuring we can grow our sport, allow new hunters to join our ranks and protect the land that T. Roosevelt set aside for such use and charged us to use responsibly. 

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Did you know that less than half of the states in the U.S. have an explicit state constitutional right to hunt and fish? That’s right, just 23 states enjoy constitutional clarity affirming our outdoor heritage and confirming our God-given right to hunt and fish. 

T. Roosevelt Action is fighting for hunting and fishing freedom and is bound and determined to grow that number in the next couple of years. As part of that fight, we are engaging a blitz to strategically reach outdoors enthusiasts in four states, educating the public on their right to hunt and fish.  

We are working in Iowa, Ohio, Florida and South Dakota – all priority states with strong hunting-and-fishing traditions that currently lack a constitutional right to hunt and fish. 

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It was President Theodore Roosevelt who pioneered the North American model of conservation – the idea that conservation efforts are crucial to our hunting way of life, and that hunters and anglers are crucial to successful conservation. The fight against these anti-hunting and anti-fishing threats is just getting started.  

We will not allow these activists to dismantle and ultimately destroy Roosevelt’s great legacy. Join us in this fight. Stand in the arena with us and do the hard work necessary to protect your right to hunt and fish. Together, we can protect our outdoor heritage for future generations. 

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