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VA Secretary David Shulkin says taxpayers didn’t foot the invoice for his sightseeing throughout a European journey. He additionally dismisses rumors that he’s within the operating to develop into the subsequent HHS secretary.
USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — Division of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin improperly accepted Wimbledon tickets and airfare for his spouse throughout a European journey final summer time that finally value taxpayers greater than $122,000, in line with a VA inspector basic report launched Wednesday.

His chief of employees, Viveca Wright Simpson, made false representations to a VA ethics lawyer and altered an official e mail to safe approval for taxpayer funding of Shulkin’s spouse’s flights, which value greater than $four,000, the VA inspector common discovered.

Shulkin informed ethics officers the tennis tickets have been offered by a private good friend, Victoria Gosling, an adviser for the Invictus Video games, a sporting occasion for wounded warriors. However the inspector basic concluded that was not the case: that they had solely met 3 times at official occasions, and when interviewed by investigators, Gosling couldn’t keep in mind his spouse’s identify.

The inspector common additionally discovered the tour led to a “misuse of VA assets.” Shulkin and his spouse, Merle Bari, took the journey with three different VA executives and a six-member safety element ostensibly to attend conferences in Denmark and a summit on veterans’ points in London.

However almost half the ten-day journey final July was spent sightseeing, and Shulkin directed an aide beforehand to plan the leisure actions together with his spouse. The aide made “in depth use of official time” to make the preparations, investigators discovered.

“This was time that ought to have been spent conducting official VA enterprise and never offering private journey concierge providers to Secretary Shulkin and his spouse,” Inspector Basic Michael Missal wrote.

He beneficial that the secretary reimburse the VA for her airfare and Gosling for the Wimbledon tickets and take disciplinary motion towards his chief of employees. He additionally urged that VA audit the journey and enhance coaching on journey planning and ethics laws surrounding improper presents.

In a letter to Missal, Shulkin stated the report ignores key proof and “attracts conclusions based mostly on subjective and arbitrary standards.” He stated he had nothing to do with securing…