- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 1, 2018

A Republican on the House Veterans Affairs Committee is calling on President Trump to fire VA Secretary David Shulkin in the wake of a scandal over his travel expenses and other issues.

Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado told the president in a letter Wednesday that Mr. Shulkin “lacks the moral authority to achieve your goals of a transparent, accountable VA that is dedicated to meeting our nation’s obligations to the men and women who wore the uniform and made tremendous sacrifices in defense of our freedoms.”

“Mr. President, you promised the American people that you would end the culture of corruption and bureaucratic incompetence that for far too long has defined the leadership of the VA,” Mr. Coffman wrote. “I write to ask you to relieve Secretary Shulkin of his current duties.”

The VA’s inspector general issued a report last month finding that Mr. Shulkin misled ethics officials about a trip he took with his wife to Europe last year that included official duties and tourist activities such as the Wimbledon tennis tournament.

Mr. Shulkin’s new chief of staff, Peter O’Rourke, has been meeting with VA staffers suspected of trying to undermine him, the secretary told Politico recently.

Mr. O’Rourke replaced Vivieca Wright Simpson after she retired last week. The IG report accused her of doctoring an email to get the VA to pay for Mr. Shulkin’s wife to accompany him on the trip to England and Denmark last summer.

Mr. Coffman wrote that Mr. Shulkin “knowingly mischaracterized” the relationship of a woman who gave his wife tickets so it could qualify as an allowable gift. He also said Mr. Shulkin “did not follow his own guidance” that official VA travel should be “essential.”

According to the OIG report, the secretary’s 11-day trip consisted of three and a half days of meetings, including an evening reception. Further, the report states that the schedule in Europe “included significant personal time for sightseeing and other unofficial activities,” Mr. Coffman wrote. “Based on the OIG’s evidence and report, it is clear that Dr. Shulkin and his wife prioritized sightseeing at the expense of our nation’s taxpayers.”

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