V.A. Secretary Misled Ethics Officials, Doctored Expense Accounts

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The Sec. of Veterans Affairs allegedly doctored records and misled the ethics office regarding a trip with his wife.

An investigation by the Veterans Affairs inspector general has found that Secretary David J. Shulkin and members of his staff doctored records and misled ethics officials regarding a trip to Europe Shulkin made with his wife, Merle Bari, last year.

The account of how the government paid travel expenses for the secretary’s wife is one finding in an unsparing investigation that concluded that Shulkin and his staff misled agency ethics officials and the public about key details of the trip. Shulkin also improperly accepted a gift of sought-after tickets to a Wimbledon tennis match, the investigation found, and directed an aide coordinating the trip to act as what the report called a “personal travel concierge” to him and his wife.

“Although the [inspector general’s office] cannot determine the value VA gained from the Secretary and his delegation’s three and a half days of meetings in Copenhagen and London at a cost of at least $122,334, the investigation revealed serious derelictions by VA personnel,” [Inspector General Michael J. Missal] concluded.

Shulkin denied the report's findings and said Missal's characterization of the trip was "entirely inaccurate":

“It is outrageous that you would portray my wife and me as attempting to take advantage of the government,” he wrote.