ADPH parts ways with controversial new employee, terminated VA director James Talton

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On Friday, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) confirmed the controversial new hire of James Talton, the former Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System (CAVHCS) Director fired for negligence in 2014.

Less than one week later, the ADPH confirmed Thursday they had parted ways with the former Director.

“Effective today, Mr. James Talton is no longer employed with the Alabama Department of Public Health. The Department wishes him well in his future endeavors,” a brief statement sent to Alabama read.

The decision came after a public outcry from Yellowhammer State veterans and one state lawmaker who didn’t approve of ADPH’s hiring decision.

Barry Moore Talton letter

Click image to enlarge. [Photo courtesy of state Rep. Barry Moore’s Facebook]

Enterprise-Republican state Rep. Barry Moore posted a letter on Facebook Thursday morning to State Health Officer Tom Miller expressing his frustration and disappointment in the decision to hire Talton, saying it showed a “severe lack of judgment.”

Moore is chairman of the Alabama House of Representatives’ Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

Last week, Miller had gone on record saying Talton was a “good fit” for the job. He had confirmed Talton’s role would oversee a group of units including finance, information technology, and vital statistics.

Today, he said Talton had become a distraction.

“It reached a point where it was interfering with us getting our work done,” said Miller.

Alabama 2nd District U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, who worked extensively to remove Talton from the VA in 2014, quickly responded to the announcement from ADPH.

“This is the right decision,” Roby said. “I worked with courageous whistleblowers to expose major wrongdoing at CAVHCS: Missing X-rays, the crack house incident, the manipulated wait times — go down the list. There was a clear record of neglect at CAVHCS, and I wouldn’t want anyone implicated in that scandal to hold a position of public trust.”

Roby worked with whistleblowers and the press to bring to light egregious instances of neglect and misconduct at the CAVHCS in 2014, which ultimately led Talton to be the first VA senior manager in the nation fired as a result of the 2014 VA scandal.

In 2014, Roby deemed Taltons’ firing from the VA “a necessary and important step toward instilling accountability at the VA and building trust within the veteran community.”

Last week, Roby declined to comment publicly upon Talton’s ADPH hiring announcement as the issue involves a nonfederal state agency.

“As a member of Congress, it isn’t my role to tell state officials how to do their job or who they should hire,” Roby explained. “However, the history at the Central Alabama VA speaks for itself, and I believe the state made the right decision. Our work to improve veterans’ services in Central Alabama continues. In fact, I’m optimistic we can get a new, stronger VA accountability bill to the President’s desk as soon as next week.”

Watch Roby’s reaction to ADPH’s decision below:

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