VA under fire for doctored emails, improper gifts and misused resources


"It's exactly corruption and abuses like this that doesn't help our veterans", Coffman tweeted, as he said that Shulkin should resign from the VA.

Vivieca Wright Simpson, the VA's third-most senior official, doctored language in an email from another aide who was planning the trip to make it look like Shulkin was getting an award from the Danish government.

That's according to a VA Inspector General, who reports that Shulkin and his wife inappropriately accepted tickets to the ladies final at Wimbledon and ate lunch at the private members dining room at Wimbledon.

The report also said that Shulkin and his staff misled the agency's ethics officials and the public about details of the trip to Denmark and England, which included pricey tickets to Wimbeldon tennis matches, tours of Westminster Abbey and Denmark's Rosenborg Castle as well as a cruise along the Thames.

Missal also recommended that Shulkin reimburse Victoria Gosling, the former CEO of the 2016 Invictus Games, for the Wimbledon tickets she provided to Shulkin and Bari. That led to the department paying for Shulkin's wife's more than $4,000 in airfare, according to the report which was released Wednesday. The report says that they were accepted on the terms that they met the "personal friendship" exception under ethics rules, however, when interviewed by the IG, the woman who provided them could not remember the name of Shulkin's wife.

That news came just days after Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt was found to have taken a number of expensive flights, including a first-class flight between NY and Washington, D.C. and a $7,000 business-class trip to Milan.

When President Donald Trump tapped Shulkin to head the VA in January 2017, he described Shulkin as "fantastic" and said he would do a "truly great job".

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"It is time to clean house at the VA and it starts with the resignation of Secretary Shulkin", Coffman said in a statement.

In London, Shulkin said he participated in a summit on veterans issues including "post-traumatic disorder, rates of suicide and homelessness among veterans, barriers to mental health care, alternative therapies, veteran-centric approaches to the provision of services, and early intervention".

The inspector general found that official meetings occupied only 3 1/2 days of the nine days spent in Europe, and that Shulkin directed an aide to plan personal activities for him and his wife during the rest of the time.

The inspector general said that "since Ms. Wright Simpson's false representations and adjustment of an official record may have violated federal criminal statutes", it referred the matter to the Justice Department, which decided not to prosecute.

When first asked about the email, Simpson reportedly told Missal that she had no recollection of whether she had changed the words in the email.

Meanwhile, the top members of the House and Senate committees which have jurisdiction over the VA issued a statement that stopped just short of calling for Shulkin to leave his post. Tom Price, the former Health and Human Services secretary, resigned past year under scrutiny for his use of chartered planes for business purposes. The gift was neither reviewed nor approved by the ethics counsel, although the secretary told reporters that it had been, the report said.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also was investigated for use of government aircraft for official trips.