The Veteran Affairs secretary’s Euro trip scandal, explained

A report scrutinizes David Shulkin’s Wimbledon tickets and his wife’s pricey airfare.

Yet another Trump administration official is facing ethics questions after an inspector general’s report found that Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin improperly accepted Wimbledon tickets, and that his chief of staff misled officials about Shulkin’s wife’s travel to Europe last summer.

The inspector general’s findings, released Wednesday, revealed that Shulkin’s trip to London and Copenhagen in July — which included Shulkin’s wife, three VA staffers, and six members of the secretary’s security detail — involved “personal time for sightseeing and other unofficial activities” such as a visit to Westminster Abbey and not one, but two river cruises on the Thames and the Nyhavn Canal in Copenhagen.

Shulkin justified the travel as in support of the VA’s mission. But the report documented only three and a half days of meetings and other official events during a nine-day trip that cost at least $122,334. According to the report, Shulkin’s chief of staff Vivieca Wright Simpson doctored an email to create the justification for the VA to subsidize travel for Shulkin’s wife, Merle Bari, whose flight cost $4,300.

The findings raise serious ethics questions about Shulkin, who until now was one of the least controversial members of Trump’s cabinet. Shulkin served in the Obama administration as a Veterans Affairs undersecretary and was confirmed unanimously to serve as VA secretary in February 2017. After initially responding to the report as containing “the thread of bias,” Shulkin indicated that he would follow the inspector general’s recommendations, which included reimbursing the VA for his wife’s airfare and paying for the Wimbledon tickets.

This is also just one of numerous scandals this week involving both travel and the misuse of taxpayer money within the Trump administration. Shulkin’s Wimbledon weekend and sightseeing …read more

Source:: Vox – All

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