The first year of the Trump administration has seen a huge increase in exorbitant travel by officials in the Cabinet and President Trump’s inner circle. While it’s unlikely to have an effect on certain members of the administration, it did lead to an investigation of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s resignation. Yet another Trump appointee could find himself in hot water after taking his wife on a taxpayer-funded vacation to Europe while claiming the trip was work-related.
According to the Washington Post, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin’s chief of staff made a false statement and created a fake email “to create a pretext for taxpayers to cover expenses for the secretary’s wife on a 10-day trip.”
Vivieca Wright Simpson, VA’s third-most senior official, altered language in an email from an aide coordinating the trip to make it appear that Shulkin was receiving an award from the Danish government — then used the award to justify paying for his wife’s travel, Inspector General Michael J. Missal said in a report released Wednesday. VA paid more than $4,300 for her airfare.
The report further indicates that Shulkin also improperly accepted a gift of tickets to the Wimbledon tennis tournament in England. According to the investigation, he ordered an aide who was organizing the trip to act as a “travel concierge” to him and his wife.
When asked previously about the expense of the trip, especially in regards to his wife, and the Wimbledon tickets, Shulkin brushed off concerns as an “entirely inaccurate” report that “reeks of an agenda.” Shulkin claimed that he had secured the necessary approvals for the trip, which featured 3.5 days of meetings with British and Danish officials and 6.5 days of sightseeing and shopping, from department ethics officials, yet the agency’s inspector general found that was not the case.
(Via Washington Post)