Shulkin won't resign, claims top aide was hacked

Shulkin said he would investigate the matter

Matt Saintsing
February 15, 2018 - 4:46 pm

Photo by Olivier Douliery


Embroiled in controversy over using taxpayer dollars to pay personal travel expenses, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, claimed Thursday, that a top aide who allegedly altered documents had been hacked.

Shulkin denied he was considering resigning, and said the department will investigate if the aide’s doctored email was among those that were hacked.

A House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing came a day after a VA inspector general released a report about a trip Shulkin took to Europe last year. Shulkin said he accepted responsibility for making mistakes after the report found “serious derelictions” in the handling of the travel, which included accepting Wimbledon tennis tickets.

The investigator said Shulkin’s chief of staff, Viveca Wright Simpson, had altered an email to claim Shulkin was going to be honored at a special event during the trip, which would have necessitated his wife’s personal travel.

Politico first reported Wednesday, the email account of Simpson may have been hacked when Shulkin suggested so in an interview. Shulkin said she showed him evidence that an outside party was sending email on her behalf.

On Thursday, he told reporters that “we know” someone took over her email. “We’ve seen that somebody is impersonating her, and we have to fully investigate that to make sure that we follow the processes,” said Shulkin.

One lawmaker, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo)—a U.S. Marine Corps veteran—went so far as to call for his resignation.

In response to the claims of hacking, Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), the committee’s ranking member sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions urging the Justice Department to review the allegations.

“According to multiple statements made by Secretary Shulkin, Ms. Simpson denied having sent the email with altered information, and showed him evidence to support this claim,” the letter reads.

“Allegedly evidence exists of a ‘spoof’ account mimicking Ms. Simpson’s official email account.”  

The letter calls for the claims of “email intrusion and tampering on government computers” to Mr. Sessions for review.