A forthcoming inspector general’s report from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will find that Secretary David Shulkin acted improperly by spending taxpayer dollars on his wife’s flights and accepting Wimbledon tickets during a European trip .
USA Today reported that Shulkin’s lawyers disputed the watchdog agency findings, which will be released later this week, calling them questionable and unfair. Trump’s cabinet has faced an onslaught of accusations about improper use of taxpayer dollars for potentially unnecessary travel.
Shulkin and his wife were given tickets to the Wimbledon tennis tournament by Victoria Gosling, a strategic adviser to wounded warrior charity, Invictus Games UK.
Shulkin apparently claimed the person who provided the tickets was a friend, although ethics officials believe otherwise after Gosling failed to remember his wife’s name.
Shulkin was nominated by President Trump to serve as the ninth VA secretary.
Prior to his confirmation, Shulkin held chief executive roles at Morristown Medical Center, the Atlantic Health System and Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.
Trained as an internal medicine physician and a researcher in health policy and the assessment of clinical outcomes, he also has experience with the VA. During medical school and in his residency training Shulkin said he did stints at the Philadelphia VAMC, the West Haven, CT, VAMC and the Pittsburgh VAMC.
He has been married to his wife, Dr. Merle Bari, for over 30 years. They are the parents of two grown children.
VA investigators are expected to accuse Shulkin of a range of ethics violations in a report expected to be released this week.
Some of the charges may be construed from a rebuttal drafted by Shulkin’s attorney and obtained by USA TODAY.
Shulkin will likely be accused of accepting Wimbledon tickets from an individual who did not have business before the VA, but who could not properly qualify as a personal friend.
His lawyers also anticipate he’ll be accused of improperly classifying a European trip due to the amount of leisure time Shulkin and his wife enjoyed.
In their rebuttal, Shulkin’s lawyers, Justin Shur, Eric Nitz, and Emily Damrau, accuse government investigators of “presenting a one-sided version of events.”
“In fact, Secretary Shulkin and Dr. Bari were prepared to pay for Dr. Bari’s travel as they always had done previously,” the lawyers wrote. “It was only when staff approached the Secretary to suggest Dr. Bari’s travel could be reimbursed that Secretary Shulkin became aware that was a possibility.”
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