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White House doctor Ronny Jackson withdraws from consideration for VA chief

By The Associated Press

This article was originally published April 26, 2018 at 7:21 a.m. Updated April 26, 2018 at 10:39 a.m.

file-in-this-april-2-2018-file-photo-white-house-physician-and-nominee-for-veterans-affairs-secretary-dr-ronny-jackson-arrives-at-the-annual-white-house-easter-egg-roll-on-the-south-lawn-of-the-white-house-in-washington-ap-photoandrew-harnik-file

FILE - In this April 2, 2018, file photo, White House physician and nominee for Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr. Ronny Jackson arrives at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

WASHINGTON — White House doctor Ronny Jackson withdrew from consideration as Veterans Affairs secretary on Thursday, saying "false allegations" against him have become a distraction.

In a statement the White House issued from Jackson, he said he "did not expect to have to dignify baseless and anonymous attacks on my character and integrity."

Jackson faced a series of accusations about his workplace conduct, including that he exhibited a pattern of recklessly prescribing drugs and drunken behavior. The latest blow to his nomination to lead the government's second-largest Cabinet agency came Wednesday with a set of accusations compiled by Democratic staff on the committee considering his nomination.

Based on conversations with 23 of Jackson's current and former colleagues at the White House Medical Unit, the summary said Jackson exhibited a pattern of recklessly prescribing drugs and drunken behavior, including crashing a government vehicle while intoxicated and doling out such a large supply of a prescription opioid that staffers panicked because they thought the drugs were missing.

In just a matter of days, the allegations transformed Jackson's reputation as a celebrated doctor attending the president to an embattled nominee accused of drinking on the job and over-prescribing drugs. He was seen pacing back and forth on the White House grounds Wednesday.

Jackson huddled late Wednesday evening with top White House press staff. They declined to comment on the situation.

A former colleague who spoke to The Associated Press described Jackson as a gregarious, Type A charmer who knew how to position himself for success — attentive to bosses but also causing unnecessary grief and consternation among colleagues.

He said Jackson became known as "Candyman" because of the way he handed out drugs. The ex-colleague spoke on condition of anonymity because of fear of retaliation.

The "Candyman" nickname was also cited in the summary released by the Democrats.

In a section on Jackson's prescribing practices, the summary said that in one case, missing Percocet tabs threw members of the White House Medical Unit into a panic — but it turned out he had prescribed a "large supply" of the opioid to a White House Military Office staffer.

The allegations also referred to multiple incidents of Jackson's intoxication while on duty, often on overseas trips. On at least one occasion he was nowhere to be found when his medical help was needed because "he was passed out drunk in his hotel room," according to the summary.

At a Secret Service going-away party, the summary says, Jackson got drunk and wrecked a government vehicle.

Jackson has denied allegations of bad behavior.

"I never wrecked a car," he said. "I have no idea where that is coming from."

Reports of overprescribing and alcohol-related behavior problems can jeopardize a doctor's license. Many state medical boards allow doctors to keep their licenses and return to practice if they complete special treatment programs and submit to random urine screens.

The allegations were publicly released on the day that Jackson's confirmation hearing was to have been held. The hearing was postponed indefinitely while the allegations against him are reviewed.

"He treated the people above him very, very well. He treated the people below him very, very poorly," Sen. Jon Tester, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, told the AP. "It's not surprising the people above him think he was doing a really, really good job."

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that Jackson had passed "at least four independent background checks" that found "no areas of concern."

"He has received more vetting than most nominees," she said.

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Comments on: White House doctor Ronny Jackson withdraws from consideration for VA chief

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skeptic1 says... April 26, 2018 at 7:40 a.m.

He was OK for Obama but not Trump, hypocrisy much?

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hah406 says... April 26, 2018 at 8:04 a.m.

If he had stayed as Trump's personal physician, like he was for Obama and Bush, he would have still been fine. Trump put him up to be in charge of the second largest agency in the government. That brought additional looks at his record of behavior and qualifications, and the issues that came to light were too much. No hypocrisy at all.

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BOLTAR says... April 26, 2018 at 8:06 a.m.

He was okay for both Presidents as their White House physician, skeptic1, but Trump wanted him to head one of our largest departments. Do you fail to draw an obvious and consequential distinction much?

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TimberTopper says... April 26, 2018 at 9:07 a.m.

skeptic1, it appears the only hypocrisy here is you. You act like you know what is going on, but don't.

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glh05230944 says... April 26, 2018 at 9:38 a.m.

No hypocrisy. Just another example of how stupid our mentally ill, perverted POTUS is.

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mrcharles says... April 26, 2018 at 10:22 a.m.

septic tank has lots to say, but as usual the analysis is a short coming. Having an agenda to hate the last POITUS and the right's "just cant let things go", fuels there comparing apples to oranges.

Did the truth set him free? withdrawn or not, alleged facts needed to be proven or proven false.

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Packman says... April 26, 2018 at 10:45 a.m.

America's loss. Can't blame the guy, however, for not wanting to enter into the toxic arena of liberal hate and Trump Derangement Syndrome. It's pathetic how these sore losers want to destroy anyone associated with President Trump in hopes it will somehow reflect badly on our President. Pathetic and bad for America.

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BOLTAR says... April 26, 2018 at 10:57 a.m.

I agree Trump hates liberals and is deranged, but we can't blame all of his bad personnel decisions solely on his personal traits.

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Packman says... April 26, 2018 at 11:08 a.m.

I agree Boltar hates Christians and is deranged, but we can't blame all of his bad personnel decisions solely on his personal traits.

( | suggest removal )

BOLTAR says... April 26, 2018 at 11:39 a.m.

Imitation is flattery, you flirt.

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