VA Target of Congressional Accusations Surrounding Private Influence on the Agency

Following a Congressional request for more information, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has reportedly declined to provide documents “related to accusations that outside businessmen are unduly influencing department policy,” according to Leo Shane III of Military Times. The VA has cited ongoing legal disputes in declining to provide the documents.

The requests were prompted by a report released by ProPublica over the summer, which seemed to indicate that at least three private sector business leaders, “Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter, primary care specialist Dr. Bruce Moskowitz, and attorney Marc Sherman” are “key architects of a host of veterans policy decisions by Trump’s administration.”

The ProPublica report showed frequent, in-depth conversations between the three men, all of whom are noted as members of the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort, and leaders within the VA, “including discussions on policy matters and personal favors.”

However, when testifying before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee last month, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie denied any suggestion of wrongdoing, claiming to have only met the individuals once, as a courtesy, and claiming that they do not influence VA policy. When asked to provide documents relevant to the matter, he stated that they are “not appropriate for release at this time,” given pending legal matters.

Congressional Democrats did not take VA’s response kindly.

“We have received nothing from VA except excuses,” said Tim Walz, Ranking Member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. “The reports of corruption and cronyism are serious and we cannot allow VA to sweep this under the rug. This issue will remain a top concern of the committee until all our questions have been answered.”

Walz has reiterated the request for documents, asking that they be produced for the committee by the end of the month.

Posted in From the Hill

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