VA Accused of Retaliating Against Whistleblowers Meanwhile, Obama's pick for health undersecretary backs out By Kevin Spak, Newser Staff Posted Jun 5, 2014 2:25 PM CDT 25 comments Comments This photo from May 17 shows the Department of Veterans Affairs in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York) (Newser) – As if the cloud over the Department of Veterans Affairs wasn't dark enough, the Office of Special Counsel has now launched an investigation into allegations that it retaliated against 37 whistleblowers—including some that tried to bring the waiting list scandal to light, the Washington Post reports. Employees in 19 states said they had been demoted, suspended, or otherwise punished by managers after trying to draw attention to inappropriate scheduling practices and other wrongdoing, the OSC announced today. Meanwhile, the White House announced today that President Obama's pick to be the department's top health official had pulled his hat out of the ring, saying he feared his nomination would spark a political dogfight. Jeffrey Murawsky had been tapped to replace undersecretary for health care Robert Petzel, who was forced to resign when the waiting list scandal broke, the AP explains. But Murawsky's come under fire, too, because the Chicago-area VA network he oversees includes a hospital that's been accused of waiting list shenanigans.