More Minnesota Democrats call for VA chief's resignation


More Minnesotans are calling on the leader of the Veteran's Affairs Department to resign, including some in his own political party.

U.S. Sen. Al Franken and Reps. Collin Peterson and Tim Walz, all Democrats, are now among those urging Secretary Eric Shinseki to step down, the Star Tribune reports.

Criticism of Shinseki and the department was swift after the release of a report from the VA's Inspector General detailing widespread problems in the VA health system.

CNN says the report found at least 1,700 veterans who requested care at a Phoenix medical center were never scheduled for appointments, nor were they put on waiting lists.

While Phoenix was the most egregious case described in the report, USA Today says the investigators found delaying medical care and falsifying records to hide it are systemic problems throughout the VA health system. CNN's report says 42 VA medical centers are now under investigation for possible abuse of scheduling practices.

Calls for Shinseki's ouster have come from many Republicans, including Minnesota Reps. John Kline and Michele Bachmann. Among Democrats those calls had been relatively few before Wednesday. Rep. Rick Nolan became the first Democrat in Minnesota's delegation to take such a stand last week.

Politico notes that all four of the Senate Democrats who called for Shinseki's resignation Wednesday are up for re-election this fall.

Minnesota's Republicans may narrow the field of challengers for Franken's seat when delegates meet at the party's state convention in Rochester Friday and Saturday.

There will be a primary contest, though, since business executive Mike McFadden and state Rep. Jim Abeler have said they will stay in the race no matter who is endorsed at the convention. State Sen. Julianne Ortman and St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg will be campaigning for that endorsement in a contest the Star Tribune says could rival any the state GOP has seen in years.

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