MADISON, Wis. — The state senator calling for a review of conditions at Wisconsin’s largest veterans home opted to judge a baking contest rather than tour the facility this summer, a newspaper reported Thursday.
Sen. Luther Olsen, a Ripon Republican, had agreed to join Rep. John Nygren on a July 8 visit to the facility in King, according to records the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel obtained from Olsen’s office (http://bit.ly/2cYgYKB ). The home lies within Olsen’s Senate district in Waupaca County.
But Olsen begged off two weeks later and served as a judge at the Junior Bake-Off Contest at the Lodi Agricultural Fair the day Nygren visited the home.
Olsen told the Journal Sentinel he had committed to the baking contest in January and didn’t realize he had a conflict that day when he agreed to accompany Nygren.
“It wasn’t what I was doing (at the fair), but whether I keep my word or not,” Olsen told the newspaper. “We thought we could squeeze both (events) in, and we couldn’t. And we had made this commitment seven months ahead of time.”
Olsen didn’t immediately return phone messages from The Associated Press.
The Legislature’s audit committee earlier this month ordered a review of conditions at the veterans home at Olsen’s request. The senator made the request after The Capital Times published a story in August raising questions about substandard care, medical errors, crumbling buildings and staffing shortages.
Olsen told the committee during a hearing this month that he decided to ask for the review after receiving complaints from residents and staff whom he said were too afraid of retribution to come forward before the story appeared.