Manchester VA Whistleblower Slams Kuster after Launching Bid for Congress
CONCORD — Stewart Levenson argues that nothing has changed since whistleblowers spotlighted major deficiencies at the Manchester Veterans Affairs Medical Center and that’s why he says he’s running for Congress.
“I don’t think things are a lick better at the VA in Manchester or the VA in general,” said Levanson, the Hopkinton physician who grabbed regional attention as the leading member of the whistleblowers. “I’m sure this is the right thing to do. If I don’t do it, no one else will.”
Levenson, a former New England Regional Director of the VA, took aim at Rep. Annie Kuster, telling NH1 News on Thursday that he would give the congresswoman an "F" for her efforts in trying to improve conditions at the Manchester VA.
Levenson on Wednesday announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination in New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District. He became the second candidate to formally enter the race for the GOP nomination, joining former state House of Representatives Majority Leader Jack Flanangan, who’s making his second bid for the seat. The winner of next September’s GOP primary will face off against Kuster, the three-term incumbent Democrat.
Levenson was one of several doctors who blew the whistle on substandard care at the Manchester VA in a Boston Globe expose this summer. That report lead spurred federal investigations of the facility and contributed to the sacking of several top officials at the center.
Levenson, who’s making his first run for political office, was critical of Kuster’s response to the problems at the VA and accused her of being dishonest about her role.
“I would give her an 'F' for the subterfuge of coming out and saying how much she’s done for the veterans. If she came and said she tried but couldn’t do anything, I would give her at least a 'C-minus' for effort,” he said.
A spokesman for Kuster, who sits on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, declined to respond to Levenson’s criticism.
Another of the whistleblowers, Ed Kois, a spine and pain specialist at the Manchester VA, was more complimentary of Kuster. In a congressional field hearing last month, Kois testified that she had helped lay the “groundwork” for reforms.
But Levenson said that Kois urged him to run for Congress and is supporting his candidacy.
“It was Kois who put this idea in my head,” he said.
The 60-year-old widower and father said he is pessimistic about a new push to turn the Manchester VA into a full-service facility.
“I wouldn’t put money on it,” he added.