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Jim McElhatton

Jim McElhatton

Jim McElhatton is an investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He can be reached at

Articles by Jim McElhatton

The Department of Veterans Affairs, under pressure from Congress to weed out poorly performing employees, gives them five days' notice. (Associated Press)

Former VA procurement chief talked the talk but ignored red flags, investigators say

Iris Cooper, a top government procurement officer, said she was a big fan of scouring would-be contractors' past performance to see if they could do the job. But that's not what happened at the Department of Veterans Affairs while she ran its office of acquisition operations, where investigators say she steered about $15 million to a company with no track record that employed two of her friends. Published December 18, 2014

Rep. Jeff Miller, Florida Republican, is questioning the integrity the VA's procurement process amid a contracting scandal. (Associated Press)

VA gives no bid deal to company in contract steering probe

The Department of Veterans Affairs gave a no-bid contract worth up to $9.2 million to a company on the same day VA investigators blasted its lack of experience in a contract steering scandal that has ensnared a top Treasury Department official. Published December 17, 2014

The U.S Treasury Building in Washington, D.C. (Associated Press)

New Treasury procurement chief steered contracts to friends while at VA

The Treasury Department's new top procurement executive steered millions of dollars worth of work to friends when she was a senior official at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and then obstructed investigators looking into the matter, the inspector general said in a report made public Monday. Published December 15, 2014

Mike Coffman, Colorado Republican said he expects a "critical mass" of whistleblowers to help in a probe mismanagement of the VA's procurement system. (Associated Press)

House to probe VA contracting scandals

The chairman of a House investigative subcommittee overseeing the Veterans Affairs Department says lawmakers are planning a series of hearings in the new Congress next year to investigate ongoing VA contracting scandals. Published December 9, 2014

Geoffrey "Jake" Commander (

Anonymous hacking attack lands British rock guitarist in jail

Geoffrey "Jake" Commander, a rock guitarist who has played with the Electric Light Orchestra, George Harrison and Elton John, among others, walked unnoticed through the halls of the U.S. District Court in Alexandria early Friday afternoon. Published December 7, 2014

VA ensnared in costly lawsuit after teaming up with shady contractor

The Department of Veterans Affairs pushed ahead on a construction project even after learning that its project manager was under FBI investigation and had been fired from a previous job for embezzlement — a decision that's now entangled the agency in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit. Published December 4, 2014

Troubles at the VA cost former Secretary Eric K. Shinseki his post this spring.  (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Appeals court holds VA secretary in contempt

A federal appeals court is holding the Veterans Affairs secretary in contempt after the department spent nearly two years ignoring a court order to process paperwork for a veteran's disability claim. Published December 1, 2014

Former Rep. Robert E. Andrews of New Jersey pressed the VA to overturn the moratorium on using FedBid for reverse auctions. Emails show Mr. Andrews received over $11,000 from FedBid in campaign contributions. (Associated Press)

Congress defended FedBid, the disgraced contractor ousted by the VA

FedBid, the politically connected contractor ousted by the VA, has benefited from a cadre of congressional allies who stepped in to defend the company and pressure the department to keep using its services, even as a top procurement officer was warning against it. Published November 27, 2014

Rep. Jeff Miller, Florida Republican and chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee said the agency has a "horrible track record" in managing major construction projects. (Associated Press)

VA office failed to justify no-bid deals: audit

A Veteran Affairs office that oversees hundreds of millions of dollars in projects in Washington, Maryland and Virginia has failed to document why the agency is making no-bid purchases — a form of procurement the Obama administration has railed against publicly. Published November 26, 2014

Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. attorney for the District, has taken down council member Harry Thomas Jr. and Chairman Kwame R. Brown. (Associated Press)

Former CEO pleads guilty in massive contractor kickback case

A Virginia-based company with defense and intelligence agency contracts paid a $300,000 fine Tuesday and its former president pleaded guilty to paying bribes to an Army procurement official who was recently sent to prison for taking kickbacks. Published November 25, 2014

The Pentagon, across the Potomac River from Washington, is seen in this aerial view in March 2008. (Associated Press) ** FILE **

Taxpayers charged for Afghan project months after KBR contract terminated

Government contractor KBR continued charging taxpayers for work on a multimillion-dollar construction project in Afghanistan for nine months after the contract was terminated, according to an internal military report disclosed amid a bitter feud between the company and military auditors. Published November 18, 2014