The Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general found a lot not to like about the secretary’s European trip.
WASHINGTON — Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, former president of Morristown Medical Center, became the latest Trump administration official to face scrutiny over his taxpayer-financed travel when a government watchdog Wednesday questioned a $122,334 trip to Europe last July.
Shulkin improperly accepted tickets to Wimbledon, misrepresentations were made to allow his wife to travel at taxpayer expense, and much of the trip was taken up with sightseeing rather than government business, according to the report by the Veterans Affairs Department’s inspector general, Michael Missal.
“The investigation revealed serious derelictions by VA personnel concerning the Europe trip,” the report said.
In addition, documentation was “inadequate to assess the accuracy and appropriateness of the trip costs.”
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The inspector general recommended that Shulkin pay for his wife’s airfare and for the Wimbledon tickets, that “appropriate administrative action” be taken against certain individuals for the trip; and that the agency audit expense vouchers, travel authorizations and time and attendance records.
The traveling party included senior VA officials and a security detail, leaders of the department. They attended an international summit in London that focused on veterans’ issues and had meetings in Copenhagen.
Shulkin was president of Morristown Medical Center from 2010 to 2015 and vice president of parent company Atlantic Health before President Barack Obama nominated him in March 2015 as undersecretary for health to clean up the scandal-plagued veterans health system. President Donald Trump chose him to run the entire agency and the Senate confirmed him without opposition.
“Accountability and transparency are important values at VA under President Trump, and we look forward to reviewing the report and its recommendations in more detail before determining an appropriate response,” agency spokesman Curt Cashour said.
The chairmen and ranking Democrats of the Senate and House Veterans Affairs committees, U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Jon Tester, D-Mont.; and Reps. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., and Tim Walz, D-Minn., said they were concerned about the inspector general’s findings.
“We believe that public officials must be held to a higher standard, and whether intentional or not, misusing taxpayer dollars is unacceptable,” the lawmakers said in a statement. “We’re counting on Dr. Shulkin to actively address all of the allegations outlined in this report. Our veterans deserve no less.”
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Source:: New Jersey Real-Time News