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The Latest: Widow of veteran defends Baldwin

October 4, 2018

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Latest on Wisconsin U.S. Senate race (all times local):

12:25 p.m.

The widow of a veteran who died at the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center is defending Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin after another veteran said it would be “immoral” to vote for her.

Heather Simcakoski said Thursday that it is “shameful” that her husband Jason’s death in 2014 from the over-prescription of opioids at Tomah is being used by Baldwin’s opponents.

She was specifically reacting to comments by Ryan Honl, a former worker at Tomah who blew the whistle on problems at the hospital. The Republican Honl on Wednesday issued a statement saying it would be “immoral” to vote for Baldwin because of how she reacted to Tomah.

But Heather Simcakoski says Baldwin worked with her family to fix problems at the VA and she called on Honl and others criticizing Baldwin to “stop talking about my husband’s death.”

9:19 am.

The whistleblower who brought attention to the prescription drug crisis at the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center says it would be “immoral” to vote for Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

Ryan Honl made the comment in a statement provided to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Honl has been a longtime critic of Baldwin’s and briefly considered running against Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, of La Crosse.

Honl says Baldwin immediately went into “political fix it mode” after his allegations about Tomah became public.

His comments come after the widow and parents of a veteran who died at Tomah recorded political ads for Baldwin, praising her response to problems at the hospital.

Baldwin’s Republican challenger Leah Vukmir seized on Honl’s statement, saying voters in November will hold Baldwin accountable for what happened at Tomah.

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