Right Hooks

VA Officials Get Away With Fraud

The appeals court's logic? Others are getting away with it.

Jordan Candler · Feb. 3, 2016

Know an ethics violator in need of job security? Try hooking them up with a lucrative position at the Department of Veterans Affairs. In addition to providing lackluster care to millions of veterans, numerous agency officials were found abusing their executive authority, such as Kimberly Graves and Diana Rubens. The duo was recently demoted from the Senior Executive Service sector of the VA. Government Executive provides a quick backstory:

In September, the VA inspector general concluded the two improperly helped create vacancies at their respective offices and volunteered to fill them. The two employees occupying the Philadelphia and St. Paul director jobs at the time were relocated to jobs they did not volunteer for to make room for Rubens and Graves, who were working elsewhere at the time in positions with more responsibility, according to the watchdog. VA paid roughly $274,000 in relocation expenses for Rubens, and about $129,000 for Graves, for a total of more than $400,000.

The VA, which hasn’t exactly been quick to enact policy reforms, did address the situation, though the “punishment” amounted to nothing more than a slap on the wrist. Instead of pulling in salaries of more than $175,000 each, Rubens and Graves were paid only about $123,000 in their new roles. But even that was considered too harsh. In separate rulings issued Wednesday and Monday, the Merit Systems Protection Board struck down the demotions and reinstated the duo’s former jobs. They were also awarded back pay. And their legal bills? All covered, courtesy of taxpayers. One judge, Chief Administrative Judge William Boulden, absurdly stated, “I find that there is a significant problem created by the inconsistent treatment of a comparable employee, and that this makes the penalty unreasonable under the circumstances.” Translation: Because others are getting away with it, Rubens and Graves should too. Does that logic apply to tax frauds?

Jazz Shaw over at Hot Air ponders, “Is there any way to simply privatize the entire VA? Because at this point we need to just board the place up and shut it down.” As long as we have an administration that treats our veterans like it does foreign policy — abandonment — don’t count on it.

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