Another VA scandal involving the chief of staff to top VA administrator

Another VA scandal involving the chief of staff to top VA administrator

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One of the high-ranking Veterans Affairs (VA) officials who misled the agency’s secretary about the prosecution of an elderly Army vet made false claims and altered an official record in a separate case. Her name is Vivieca Wright and she is the chief of staff to VA Secretary David J. Shulkin. Last week Judicial Watch obtained records showing that Wright and others in Shulkin’s inner circle lied to him about a federal case in which an Army veteran was criminally prosecuted for displaying the American Flag at a southern California VA facility. Judicial Watch helped represent the 75-year-old vet, Robert Rosebrock, who faced up to six months in jail for the ghastly offense of affixing Old Glory at a site honoring those who served their country. He was also charged with taking unauthorized photographs of both the Flag and VA police.

Wright helped spread falsehoods to her boss about the Rosebrock prosecution after he ordered her to check the accuracy of a national news report about the federal case. Shulkin was opposed to pressing charges against Rosebrock and wanted to issue a press release announcing it. More than a month before Rosebrock’s trial, the VA Secretary’s staff downplayed the seriousness of the charges by erroneously stating in official agency emails that the vet made the choice to go to court rather than pay a fine and that he faced no jail time. In fact, Wright forwarded an email to her boss from the director of the West L.A. VA, Ann Brown, falsely stating: “Forgot to add—he is facing a $25 fine with NO jail time.”

Days after Judicial Watch published this, the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report stating that Shulkin’s chief of staff lied and altered official agency emails in another case. The VA watchdog was tipped off by a whistleblower outraged over waste involving an overseas trip that misspent taxpayer dollars and misused department resources. During the European jaunt, a high-level VA employee was delegated to “personal travel concierge,” OIG investigators found, and the agency paid thousands of dollars for Shulkin’s wife, a dermatologist named Merle Bari with a private practice in Pennsylvania, to join him on the trip to Copenhagen and London last July. The ten-day trek included 11 people and cost the VA north of $122,000, according to the OIG probe, which found “serious derelictions concerning the trip…” The VA delegation visited Kensington Palace and Westminster Abbey and strolled through the gardens of Buckingham Palace. Details are included in more than a dozen trip books printed at a cost of $100 each, the report reveals.

Source: Judicial Watch

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