(For what it’s worth, Coffman founded a property management firm, and served as secretary of state and treasurer in Colorado. McDonald was CEO of Procter & Gamble.)
Coffman accused McDonald of “glossing over” the problems that still plague veteran services. He said he believed McDonald “will not have made a difference in changing the culture …” by the end of the Obama administration.
He pressed McDonald about construction issues with a new VA hospital in his district. McDonald pushed back that he’d only been in the job six months, “you’ve been here longer than I have, if there’s a problem in Denver, you own it more than I do.”
McDonald said he was offended by Coffman’s comments. He also offered the congressman access to his personal cellphone – he gave out his number when The Washington Post asked for it at a September press conference – so that he could take calls from veterans and ask them if he’s making a difference.
Coffman’s spokesman Tyler Sandberg sent us an e-mail, noting that the congressman was a combat veteran in both Iraq wars.
“More to the point, Mike Coffman has been fighting for years to fix the failures of the Department of Veterans Affairs, but he can’t legislate leadership,” Sandberg said. “Notwithstanding Secretary McDonald’s obnoxious comments, Rep. Coffman is concerned that the Secretary will never fix the problems at the VA so long as he refuses to fully acknowledge that his organization continues to be dysfunctional at every level.”
Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, summed it up this way: