Officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs have opened an inquiry into allegations that a ranking manager posted derogatory and possibly threatening tweets aimed at whistle-blowers from the Philadelphia regional office.
The first tweets were posted on the same day last year that investigators arrived at the Germantown facility to probe employee claims of mismanagement and misconduct.
"So all you need to do is make false allegations and suddenly it's gospel," one tweet read. "You know who you are you piece of s-. You & your accomplice."
The Twitter account does not identify who maintains it.
Its handle, @lina_g148, appears to match the name of Lina Giampa, the VA office's longtime human resources manager. Public records suggest that Giampa's house number is 148.
A handful of other tweets on the account reference the VA, including one with the message #VAdrama.
The VA would not discuss the details of the inquiry or the affected employees. When The Inquirer asked a spokesman if the agency was looking into the tweets and mentioned Giampa by name, he responded with a two-sentence statement: "The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) places a priority on the well-being of all employees. VBA is aware of the situation and is looking into the matter."
Giampa did not respond to an e-mail sent to her VA account Wednesday afternoon, and her home phone number is unlisted. A spokeswoman from the Philadelphia VA benefits office did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment from Giampa.
The tweet review is the latest probe at the Germantown office, which oversees benefits for 825,000 veterans in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.
After more than a year of scrutiny on issues ranging from data manipulation to mismanaged mail, the agency last week said it planned to fire or suspend at least eight employees involved in changing claim dates to hide the office's backlog.
The office's director, Diana Rubens, has said she has prioritized improving office morale and the relationship between management and staff, which has been described as toxic. But employees last month told a congressional delegation that little had improved.
Some of the controversial tweets match dates when the office first found itself in the spotlight.
On June 19, 2014 - the day that VA inspectors launched their probe with an unannounced visit to the office - @lina_g148 posted the tweet regarding "false allegations" and one other.
"Your accomplice is a piece of s- too," it read. "Say it to my face. Oh wait - that would require guts which you don't have you coward. #coward."
The user posted again on July 15, 2014, one day after the House Committee on Veterans Affairs held an investigative hearing at which Kristen Ruell, a whistle-blower, testified about problems at the office.
"You think you're honorable," the tweet reads. "You're a disgrace. Shame on you!"
Contacted late Wednesday afternoon after the VA confirmed its inquiry, Ruell acknowledged she was aware of the tweets and was "greatly bothered" by the timing.
"It horrifies me," she said. "And I am praying to God she's talking about somebody else. This has been stressful enough and to find out this kind of stuff doesn't make me feel any better."