Quantcast
Connect with us

‘Serious derelictions’ found in US veteran affairs chief’s Europe trip: report

Published

on

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin improperly accepted tickets to the Wimbledon tennis tournament during a government trip to Europe last summer, and his chief of staff made false statements so the secretary’s wife could travel at government expense, the inspector general reported on Wednesday.

The investigation of Shulkin’s European trip found several other “serious derelictions,” the Veterans Affairs inspector general said in a report on its website.

ADVERTISEMENT

The office opened the probe after receiving an anonymous complaint alleging the secretary had misused travel funds because the trip to Europe, which cost at least $122,344, was more personal than business.

Shulkin criticized the inspector general’s findings in an addendum to the report, saying: “It does not appear accurate or objective, and it contains a thread of bias.”

VA spokesman Curt Cashour said in an email the department was reviewing the report and its recommendations in more detail before determining an appropriate response.

Shulkin was the latest member of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet to come under fire for travel practices.

ADVERTISEMENT

Health Secretary Tom Price resigned last September after an uproar over his use of private charter planes for government business. At least four other Trump Cabinet members have faced criticism for government travel, including Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, also the target of an inspector general’s probe, faced growing scrutiny after the Washington Post reported on Monday that he had racked up about $90,000 in first-class, private and military jet travel.

Pruitt told New Hampshire’s Union Leader newspaper on Tuesday that had he traveled first-class for security reasons.

ADVERTISEMENT

‘SIGNIFICANT PERSONAL TIME’

Shulkin led a VA team to Copenhagen and London for 10 days in July. The report said the trip included 3-1/2 days of meetings in the two cities as well as “significant personal time for sightseeing and other unofficial activities.”

The probe found that Shulkin’s chief of staff made false statements and altered an email so the government would pay travel expenses for Shulkin’s wife.

ADVERTISEMENT

That matter was referred to the Justice Department, which decided not to pursue a criminal prosecution at this time, the report said. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to questions about that decision.

The investigation also found that Shulkin improperly accepted two tickets to the women’s final at Wimbledon from a British friend. He also directed a subordinate to use official time to plan personal travel for him and his wife during non-official portions of the visit, the report said.

In a letter included in the report, Shulkin accused the inspector general’s office of pre-emptively leaking the report to the media and called it “a direct assault on my spouse, my character and my unblemished record of service.”

ADVERTISEMENT

He told USA Today in an interview on Wednesday he regretted any mistakes and “there was never anything intentional.” He said he was moving to comply with the inspector general’s recommendations, including reimbursing the government for his wife’s $4,312 airfare and paying his friend for the Wimbledon tickets.

The chief of staff cited in the report, Vivieca Wright Simpson, could not immediately be reached for comment. In a statement to the Washington Post, she said: “I look forward to inserting facts into the record so it may reflect truth and accuracy and illuminate any further confusion or misrepresentation.”

The top Republicans and Democrats on the Senate and House committees that oversee veterans issues issued statements saying they were disappointed by the findings on Shulkin’s travel, and urging Shulkin “to actively address all of the allegations outlined in this report.”

ADVERTISEMENT

(Reporting by David Alexander, Susan Heavey and Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Facebook

Trump lies to the press about his massive tax increasing while departing to France for the G7 Summit

Published

on

President Donald Trump was caught repeating inaccurate claims when he spoke to reporters before boarding Marine One for his trip to France for the G7 Summit.

"I think our tariffs are very good for us. We're taking in tens of billions of dollars, China is paying for it," Trump argued.

In reality, China is not paying for the tariffs, which are paid by American importers and passed on to consumers, making the announcement a massive tax increase on Americans.

"Our tariffs are working out very well for us, people don't understand that yet," Trump argued.

Watch:

Continue Reading

Facebook

Bill Maher presents ’25 things you don’t know about Stephen Miller’ on Real Time

Published

on

The host of HBO's "Real Time" presented "25 things you don’t know about Stephen Miller" on Friday.

"In high school, I was voted 'Most Likely to Comb My Mummified Mother's Hair,'" was one item.

"I think tacos are stealing jobs from hamburgers," was another.

"I'm a Cancer. I don't know my astrological sign," was a third.

"The worst part about my car smelling like wet dogs, is that I don't own dogs," was a fourth.

Watch:

Continue Reading
 

Facebook

Bill Maher dances on David Koch’s grave: ‘I’m glad he’s dead and I hope the end was painful’

Published

on

HBO "Real Time" host Bill Maher celebrated the death of right-wing billionaire David Koch, who died of prostate cancer.

"I guess I'm going to have to reevaluate my low opinion of prostate cancer," Maher said.

"Condolences poured in from all the politicians he owned and mourners are being asked, in lieu of flowers, to just leave their car engine running," he said.

"I know these seem like harsh words and harsh jokes, and I'm sure I will be condemned for them on Fox News, which will portray Mr. Koch as a principled libertarian who believed in the free market," Maher said. "He and his brother have done more than anybody to fund climate science deniers -- for decades."

Continue Reading
 
 

Thank you for whitelisting Raw Story!

As a special thank you, from now until August 31st, we're offering you a discounted rate of $5.99/month to subscribe and get ad-free access. We're honored to have you as a reader. Thank you. :) —Elias, Membership Coordinator
LEARN MORE
close-link
close-image