VA Secretary Says He'll Reimburse US for Disputed European Travel Costs

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin speaks during a briefing at the White House in Washington Wednesday

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin speaks during a briefing at the White House in Washington Wednesday

One day after a Veterans Affairs investigator said an administrative staff member altered an email to cover European travel expenses for Secretary David Shulkin past year, the department chief was asked about it on Capitol Hill Thursday. The scathing report by the US inspector general found Shulkin's chief of staff doctored an email to convince an ethics lawyer to approve a $4,300 ticket to fly Shulkin's wife overseas. The VA said the two flew commercially, and the taxpayers covered her airfare as part of "temporary duty" travel expenses.

Other members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, including the chairman and the ranking member, also expressed frustration and concern about the inspector general report. A VA spokesman, Curt Cashour, did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Wright Simpson.

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".

Roe said he believes Shulkin's intentions to serve and care for the nation's veterans are clear and said Shulkin has the "mission at heart". He told USA Today he has already written a check to reimburse the Treasury for his wife's travel.

"I relied upon my staff to do this, and in retrospect, I wish that I had asked more questions", he told the newspaper.

Aside from the potential misuse of government time and resources, the couple's attendance of the Wimbledon championships caused the IG to raise ethics concerns.

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He is among five current and former Trump administration Cabinet members to be investigated by inspectors general over travel expenses.

Others include Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and EPA chief Scott Pruitt, who have acknowledged the use of government or private flights costing tens of thousands of dollars.

Shulkin has called the report, conducted by his own agency, "neither accurate or objective".

The OIG concluded that Shulkin directed a VA employee to coordinate Shulkin's leisure time on the European trip, such as tourist activities with his wife, and that it was a "misuse" of that employee's official work time.

'We're working on having a dinner at the US Ambassador's Residence in honor SEVCA [the secretary] but that has not been confirmed by US Embassy Copenhagen yet, ' Gough wrote in response to Simpson's query. Wimbledon tickets? High tea? "Would want to do baths not just tour". Acceptance of the tickets may have been prohibited by federal ethics rules. And they said Shulkin mischaracterized the woman who provided him with the Wimbledon tickets as a friend when they had only met three times at official events. "We're counting on Dr. Shulkin to actively address all of the allegations outlined in this report".

Second District Congressman Annie Kuster, said the Inspector General report shows extreme carelessness at best, and willful abuse of taxpayer dollars at worst. Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Jon Tester of Montana, along with Reps.

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