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

Matt Saintsing
December 04, 2018 - 1:16 pm

Photo by Xinhua/Wang Ying

Newly released emails show three businessmen, who are also members of President Trump’s exclusive club in Florida, had sway over program budgets, input on job candidates, and influence over a $10 billion contract for electronic health records, according to ProPublica. 

A trove of documents, released under the Freedom of Information Act, highlights how the troika—Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter, doctor Bruce Moskowitz, and attorney Marc Sherman— dictated policy from the President's resort in Florida. . 

More than 40 outside experts, including hospital executives, were asked to weigh in, according to ProPublica. The men, known as “the Mar-a-Lago crowd,” were also consulted. Perlmutter was in communication with the University of Washington Medical Center, nonprofit healthcare provider Intermountain Health and Johns Hopkins University. 

The records also show the men “editing the budget for a government program,” influencing personnel decisions, and having sway over key policy decisions. 

Moskowitz was attempting to connect the VA with Apple for the development of an app, ultimately rejecting VA physician’s ideas. “These are good areas but not the emergency ones which my group of experts have identified,” he wrote in a May 2017 email, according to ProPublica. 

Sections of the app’s code ultimately needed “to be refactored and even rebuilt,” according to the documents. 

In August, ProPublica first reported the trio having influence over critical decisions at the Department of Veterans Affairs, regardless of a lack of government experience and policy chops. 

The revelation has sparked a lawsuit and harsh criticism from lawmakers who see the troika as unaccountable “to veterans or taxpayers.”

VA spokesman Curt Cashour says, “Although his predecessors may have done things differently, Sec. Wilkie has been clear about how he does business.”

“No one from outside the administration dictated VA policies or decisions—that’s up to Sec. Wilkie and President Trump. Period.” 

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