a matter of ethics
The Veterans Affairs head reportedly paid for his wife's European travel with taxpayer dollars
President Trump's Cabinet has faced an onslaught of accusations about improper travel, and it looks like the latest to join their ranks will be Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, USA Today reports. While the VA inspector general's findings have not yet been made public, a report likely to be issued this week is expected to ding Shulkin for a potentially unnecessary 10-day trip to Denmark and London last July, during which taxpayers allegedly paid for his wife's airfare. Additionally, the couple reportedly spent half the trip sightseeing, ventures Shulkin allegedly improperly directed his staff to arrange.
Shulkin is an Obama administration holdover, having formerly served as the undersecretary for health at the VA. His trip to Denmark and London also involved meetings with health-care and veterans professionals, and he had designated the travel as "essential."
The VA inspector general's report is also expected to cite Shulkin for improperly accepting tickets for him and his wife to attend Wimbledon. Shulkin apparently claimed the person who provided the tickets was a friend, although ethics officials believe otherwise after the provider failed to remember Shulkin's wife's name.
Shulkin's lawyers heavily pushed back against the anticipated findings, claiming the Denmark trip was "essential travel" and that saying otherwise shows a "fundamental lack of understanding of the secretary's work and the VA's mission." The lawyers additionally argue that it is unimportant whether or not Shulkin was given the Wimbledon tickets by a personal friend because the provider, a strategic adviser to the U.K.'s Invictus Games, was not seeking to influence him in any way.