House expanding investigation into VA ‘shadow rulers’

Matt Saintsing
March 14, 2019 - 5:32 pm
House Veterans' Affairs Committee is broadening its investigation into political influence over VA.

Photo by PA Images/Sipa USA

An investigation into “undue political influence” at the Department of Veterans Affairs is being expanded, the House Committee on Veterans Affairs announced Thursday.

“Until now, this investigation was limited in scope on the influence of Mr. Ike Perlmutter, Dr. Bruce Moskowitz, and Mr. Marc Sherman over the Department,” Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), the committee’s chairman wrote in a letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.

“However, this most recent letter containing President Trump’s handwritten note directing a former VA Secretary to consider a private individual’s request necessitates an investigation into the influence of other private individuals and entities that sought to influence VA through connections with the President’s Mar-a-Lago Club.”

The note is a reference to recent reporting by ProPublica, indicating excessive sway unelected and unaccountable people from President Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida may have had over key decisions made at the VA.

Albert Hazzouri, a cosmetic dentist from Scranton, Pennsylvania, wrote in late 2017 to propose the government pay for more dental care for veterans.

Atop Hazzouri’s note is a message from Trump written in black marker. “Send to David S at the V.A.,” the president wrote, indicating it was intended for then-VA Secretary David Shulkin.  

Takano is asking for additional documents “in the possession, control, or custody of the Department of Veterans Affairs originating” from Trump’s resort at Mar-a-Lago.

RELATED: House VA committee sparks investigation into VA ‘shadow rulers’

He set a March 29 deadline for the documents and communiques.   

RELATED: Here’s how the Mar-a-Lago crowd influenced VA

On Thursday, Takano tweeted the VA is “stonewalling” the committee’s request.

RELATED: Senator to ‘Mar-A-Lago crowd:’ Did you profit from the VA, or nah?

VA spokesman Curt Cashour pushed back on the idea the agency wasn't fully cooperating with the investigation. He said the committee "has acknowledged this cooperation repeatedly, including during a meeting today."

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