Democrats incensed over shocking outside influence at VA. Now they want answers.

Matt Saintsing
August 10, 2018 - 11:34 am

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Democrats on Capitol Hill are vowing to get to the bottom of a bombshell investigation that describes unprecedented outside political influence at the top levels of VA.  

In a letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, 16 Democratic senators expressed alarm that “many of the actions taken by VA” were “planned and executed to serve political interests and agendas, rather than to serve the best interests of veterans.” 

The letter continues, “You will need to right the ship at VA by reassuring the nonpartisan career employees that their institutional knowledge and dedication is valued.” 

It was signed by Sens. Jon Tester (Mont.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Bob Casey (Pa.), Tom Udall (N.M.), Mark Warner (Va.), Joe Manchin (WV), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Tim Kaine (Va.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.), and Maggie Hassan (N.H.).
 
ProPublica set off a firestorm Tuesday when they published an extensive investigation depicting three unelected informal advisors having vast influence over top decisions at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the federal government’s second largest agency. 

Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter, physician Dr. Bruce Moskowitz, and attorney Marc Sherman are the three individuals ProPublica says have been working as “shadow rulers” of VA, all members of President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. 

But the White House is pushing back. In a statement, to ProPublica, the administration said that Perlmutter, Moskowitz, and Sherman have no influence at the agency. According to ProPublica, however, all three men have been heavily involved in staffing at the VA, and have weighed in on programs at the beleaguered department. 

Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), the ranking member on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, also sent a letter to Wilkie outraged that the three informal advisors “are not accountable to veterans or taxpayers and none of whom have served in the United States military or government, have been placed in decision-making positions in the department without nomination by the president or Senate confirmation.” 

Walz requested documents and details of VA officials visiting Mar-a-Lago, including the cost of each trip, by Aug. 31. 

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