RELEASE: Sununu Administration Falsely Claims State Not Responsible for Oversight in Veterans Home
Concord, N.H. -- Yesterday the Sununu administration falsely claimed that the State is not responsible for oversight of the state-run Veterans Home after facing questions about why Governor Sununu tried to hide information about the COVID outbreak at the Veterans Home. You can watch a video of the questioning here and read the transcript below. A reporter asked Sununu why he left a box blank in the sham report that asks what recommendations were adopted based on the assessment from the December VA consultation. Sununu admitted that his office received a report from the VA following an examination of the Veterans Home in December. He then passed the question to DHHS Commissioner Lori Shibinette who said that “the department doesn't have access to that report” (which the Governor admitted his office had), and then falsely claimed that the “Department of Health and Human Services has no oversight over the veteran's home.” However, New Hampshire’s DHHS has direct oversight over the Veterans Home. New Hampshire law gives the Office of the Long Term Care Ombudsman -- which resides within the DHHS -- oversight responsibility over the Veterans Home. Sununu’s attempts to hide information about the COVID outbreak at the New Hampshire Veterans Home come after WMUR’s Adam Sexton obtained a damning assessment from the VA that lays bare Sununu’s failure to prevent or mitigate the COVID outbreak and proves that his so-called “review” is actually a sham. “It is absolutely unacceptable that Governor Sununu and his administration are trying to cover up their failure to respond to the COVID outbreak at the New Hampshire Veterans Home,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “The response from the Governor regarding this crisis has been shameful, and we will continue to hold him and his administration accountable until our veterans and nursing home staff get the answers they deserve.” A full transcript of the questioning is below: REPORTER: We do have -- Adam Sexton's not here today for the governor, but he did submit a couple of questions about the state veteran's home for you. He is asking: regarding the state veteran's home and the report on the VA document that provides observations and recommendations on infection control practices during the outbreak. It's his understanding that the VA document was distributed to elected officials, including your office. SUNUNU: It's an email. Yeah, I believe it was like an email with bullets. That's--it wasn't like a formal study or a report. They came in. I mean, you have to appreciate the federal VA was doing investigations all across the country. So they did come in, they took a look, I think this was in early December, but there was no formal study or report. It was kind of an email with a, you know, kind of a list of recommendations. REPORTER: And he was just asking: in the state's recent report, the form specifically asked for the VA's recommendations to be listed and that section was blank. Why was that? SUNUNU: Is it I think this is the same question that that he asked last time. Lori, I'll ask you to take that. Sure. SHIBINETTE: Thank you, the the department doesn't have access to that report. If the -- the email may have gone to the governor's office or elected officials, but the Department of Health and Human Services has no oversight over the veteran's home and the federal government, has no obligation and, and no reason to really send us a copy of that report. So the reason why it would be left blank is because they didn't have access to the report.