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David Shulkin, Under Secretary for the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
In February, the IG’s office issued a damning report blasting Shulkin for telling a subordinate to handle personal travel plans for him and his wife during an official trip to Denmark and England last summer.
The report also criticized him for improperly accepting tickets to the Wimbledon tennis tournament during the same trip.
That excursion came less than two weeks after Shulkin signed a memo advising senior leadership to curtail unnecessary travel.
The IG’s report accused Shulkin’s chief of staff, Vivieca Wright Simpson, of potential criminal conduct by making false statements and altering a document so that the VA could “improperly” pay for Shulkin’s wife to travel to with him, at a cost to taxpayers of $4,312.
Wright Simpson retired on the heels of the report.
Shulkin initially pushed back against the IG’s findings, but then said he would reimburse the VA for his wife’s travel.
An indication of Shulkin’s already perilous standing within the Trump administration last month was a statement in response to the report by the VA’s own spokesman, Curt Cashour, who pointedly did not defend Shulkin.
“Accountability and transparency are important values at VA under President Trump, and we look forward to reviewing the report and its recommendations in more detail before determining an appropriate response,” Cashour said.
Shulkin reportedly has stopped using Cashour to act as his conduit to the media.
USA Today in late February reported that Shulkin’s assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs, John Ullyot, in a call initiated by Cashour, had lobbied a senior aide on the House Committee on Veterans Affairs to persuade members of Congress to call the White House and request Shulkin’s ouster.
Both Ullyot and Cashour denied they lobbied for assistance in getting rid of Shulkin.
However, USA Today noted that two sources had told the newspaper that they did. And The Washington Post followed up with a report of its own that said three people with knowledge of the situation corroborated that claim.