Less than two weeks after Trump’s Veterans’ Affairs Chief signed a memo instructing VA staff to cut down on nonessential travel, he took a 10 day taxpayer funded trip with his entourage to Europe that included a River Cruise and visiting palaces, the Washington Post reports.
VA Chief David Shulkin traveled with six people including his acting undersecretary of health and her husband, as well as accompanied by a security detail of as many as six people, according to the itinerary reported by the Post.
“The agency said Friday that the government paid airfare for Merle Bari, Shulkin’s wife, because she was traveling on ‘approved invitational orders.’ The government also provided a per diem for her meals, the agency said.”
Additionally, “All of Shulkin’s activities on the European trip, including his attendance at Wimbledon, ‘were reviewed and approved by ethics counsel,’ VA press secretary Curt Cashour said in an emailed statement.”
They visited four palaces – with “times for walks, self-guided tours and photo stops,” a Wimbledon championship tennis match and took a cruise on the Thames. There was some work done as well.
In comparison to Trump’s Health and Human Services Tom Price’s private jet scandals, it might be a relief to know that Shulkin flew on a commercial flight. And VA press secretary Curt Cashour said the husband of the acting undersecretary for health paid his own expenses.
But Jack Gillum, Alex Horton, Drew Harwell and Lisa Rein at the Post point out, “The European visit, however, puts a focus on the mixing of business and leisure during these trips, which can come at great taxpayer expense. Shulkin’s immediate predecessor, Robert McDonald, took no foreign work trips, according to a former VA official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price promised to repay the government and thus taxpayers almost $52,000 for the cost of his seats on private charter flights on Thursday. “I think the President’s mad as hell,” a Republican senator told CNN yesterday in regards to Price’s private charter trips.
The Senator added, “What the f*** was he thinking?”
Turns out, the White House approved military aircraft for trips by Price to Africa, Europe and Asia already at a cost of more than $500,000 to taxpayers, according to Politico, which totals the cost of Price’s trips so far to more than $1 million since May.
Vote Vets weighed in, with Will Fischer saying Shulkin and Price are just taking cues from Trump about wasting taxpayer funds on personal travel:
— VoteVets (@votevets) September 29, 2017
This kind of systemic corruption is a direct result of the culture Trump is creating for his cabinet since he is treating the taxpayers like they are personally here to fund his businesses and his family. The Trump cabinet are operating as if they can mooch off of the taxpayer and do whatever they want.
The Trump Effect is theft from the taxpayer, shoddy ethics, and a big heaping of entitlement.
Image: Victoria Gosling, twitter: “Great honour and a pleasure to host US Secretary of the VA and his lovely family @DavidShulkin1 @netperformance1 #wimbledon Ladies Finals”
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.