In the most detailed account of allegations against Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson so far, a document provided by the top Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee says the VA secretary nominee overzealously distributed prescription painkillers and other drugs to others and himself, according to interviews with colleagues and former colleagues, who described him as unethical.
One of the allegations is that Jackson once got drunk and “wrecked” a government car.
Shortly after the document was released Wednesday afternoon, Jackson denied several of the allegations when presented with them by reporters.
The document is based on interviews Democratic committee staffers did with 23 colleagues and former colleagues of Jackson’s, most of whom, Tester’s office says, are still in uniform. The colleagues are cited as describing Jackson as “the most unethical person I have ever worked with,” “100 percent bad temper,” “the worst officer I have ever served with,” someone who would “lose his mind over small things,” “vindictive” and “belittling.”
One staffer at the White House Medical Unit was quoted in the documents as saying working there was the “worst experience of my life.”
The two-page list provided by Democrats is divided into three sections, including one titled “Drunkenness,” which alleges that on at least one occasion during an overseas presidential trip, Jackson could not be reached when needed, while he was “on duty,” because he was passed out drunk in his hotel room.
The document also includes an allegation that “At a Secret Service going away party, Jackson got drunk and wrecked a government vehicle.”
The first category contains a dozen claims about his prescribing practices, including that he would write himself prescriptions and, when caught, have his physician’s assistant do it instead. He is also said to have thrown the White House medical staff “into a panic” when tabs of the opioid Percocet were discovered missing when it turned out Jackson had provided a “large supply” to a White House Military Office staffer.
The document says, as Tester had said Tuesday in interviews, that Jackson was known as the “Candyman” because he would provide prescriptions without paperwork.
Speaking at the White House just after the document was circulated, Jackson told a group of reporters in the halls of the West Wing that he has “never wrecked a car” and has “no idea” where the allegations about his practice of dispensing drugs are coming from. He also said he’s still moving ahead with his nomination.
Earlier Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders defended Jackson, saying no previous background checks for Jackson’s employment as the presidential physician raised any areas of concern, including one check conducted by the FBI. She defended his record as “impeccable.”