U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin isn’t going to be resigning as he should be. Instead, Viveca Wright Simpson, Shulkin’s chief of staff, will be retiring. That’s thrown under the bus, in non-DC speak.
Simpson is out, Shulkin is staying, after Shulkin got busted taking his wife on your dime for a 10-day trip to Europe that consisted of a “significant amount of personal time, including Secretary Shulkin’s attendance at the Wimbledon tennis tournament.”
Simpson is stepping down after revelations that she misled ethics officials in order to get the taxpayers to pay for the Secretary’s wife to travel with him to Europe last summer. Simpson got busted doctoring an email to an ethics lawyer to suggest that her boss was getting an award during the 10-day trip, which would have justified the taxpayers funding his wife’s trip.
Shulkin said the Inspector General’s report contained “does not appear accurate or objective, and it contains a thread of bias.”
Then Shulkin tried to suggest the email was hacked to no avail, because obviously the trip was granted approval for some reason and the reason corresponds to that email with the false information.
Can't make this up! Shulkin now offers a preposterous claim that the falsified email that persuaded the ethics official to approve his wife's travel was hacked! INSANE! How stupid does @SecShulkin think we are? The ethics official wouldn't have granted approval without that email
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) February 15, 2018
When that didn’t work, Shulkin offered to pay back the cost of his wife’s travel as suggested in the report and then, apparently, threw Simpson under the bus.
This announcement came days after the VA Inspector General investigation found that on the trip, which cost at least $122,334.00 and came days after an announcement that travel should be limited to save funds, Shulkin improperly accepted tickets to the Wimbledon tennis tournament and Simpson made false statements so the secretary’s wife could travel at government expense. The investigation of Shulkin’s European trip found several other “serious derelictions” by Shulkin and his staff.
Shulkin confirmed Simpson’s resignation to USA Today and “said he intends to continue in his post and remains committed to fulfilling President Trump’s agenda in overhauling the VA.”
This news was overshadowed by the quagmire of constant drama and scandal that surround and ironically often protects the Trump White House like a moat as well as the tragic mass shooting in a Florida school that killed 17 people.
Ethics experts said at the time that Shulkin must go days ago.
In response to @SecShulkin noting the optics don't look good, Rep. Coffman said, "It's not the optics that are not good, it's the facts that are not good." Please don't let this go @RepMikeCoffman. Shulkin must go. Misleading ethics officials is disqualifying for federal service. https://t.co/4OAgd9fbSE
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) February 15, 2018
When Obama was President, any whiff of scandal at the VA was made into months long drama for cable TV- rightfully so, because our veterans deserve proper care.
It's exactly corruption and abuses like this that doesn't help our veterans. @SecShulkin must RESIGN now. @realDonaldTrump ran on accountability, it starts here. VA chief Shulkin, staff misled ethics officials about Eurotrip, report – The Washington Post https://t.co/hJ3slooxQr
— Rep. Mike Coffman (@RepMikeCoffman) February 14, 2018
But Obama said the buck stopped with him, whereas under Trump, the men throw whoever works for them under the bus for things they blatantly did.
Under Trump, the scourge of abuse of the taxpayers is rampant.
“Health Secretary Tom Price resigned last September after an uproar over his use of private charter planes for government business. At least four other Trump Cabinet members have faced criticism for government travel, including Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, also the target of an inspector general’s probe, faced growing scrutiny after the Washington Post reported on Monday that he had racked up about $90,000 in first-class, private and military jet travel.
Pruitt told New Hampshire’s Union Leader newspaper on Tuesday that had he traveled first-class for security reasons,” as David Alexander, Susan Heavey and Valerie Volcovici reported for Reuters on Thursday.
This is an offering for those who don’t believe white privilege exists. Just examine the difference in standards to which both White Houses and agencies are held and the response of the leaders. We will know racism is not a real thing anymore when we elect a black man as incompetent, scandal-driven, sold-out, money-hungry and obviously con-ridden as Donald Trump.
Under Obama, we had an entire team of people who actually cared, who strove to be ethical and uphold standards.
Under Trump, we have wife beaters being hired even after this is disclosed to the White House and men tossing a female aide under the bus after the man is busted taking his wife on your dime to Europe and lying about it.
If personal accountability were a Republican value, and they actually cared about veterans, they would be screaming for Shulkin to resign his VA-scamming ways. Instead, a woman who wrote an email so that her boss’ wife could go to Europe on your dime is resigning.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ 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.