Donald Trump has 24 people in his Cabinet. Just under 13 months since his inauguration, no less than five of them have come under public scrutiny for their expensive travel habits on the taxpayers’ dime. That’s a low batting average if you’re Mookie Betts but a high one if you’re president of the United States.
The latest Cabinet member to get called on the carpet is David Shulkin, the secretary of Veterans Affairs. This week, the VA’s inspector general released a report on questions surrounding a trip Shulkin and his wife took to Europe last July.
These were among the findings, according to The Washington Post:
- Shulkin got the VA to cover his wife’s expenses, including airfare, after the department’s third-in-command altered an email to say the Danish government was giving the secretary an award.
- Shulkin improperly sought and received free Wimbledon tickets, then claimed they had been a gift from a friend of his wife’s. When contacted, the friend could not remember Shulkin’s wife’s name.
- Shulkin directed an aide who was traveling with him to arrange his wife’s sightseeing while he was in meetings, in effect making the aide what the IG’s report called a “de facto personal travel concierge.”
Shulkin has denied doing anything wrong and called it “outrageous” the inspector general would accuse him of such improprieties. But not everyone is buying he is blameless, and at least one Republican congressman has already called on him to resign:
It’s exactly corruption and abuses like this that doesn’t help our veterans. @SecShulkin must RESIGN now. @realDonaldTrump ran on accountability, it starts here. VA chief Shulkin, staff misled ethics officials about Eurotrip, report – The Washington Post https://t.co/hJ3slooxQr
— Rep. Mike Coffman (@RepMikeCoffman) February 14, 2018
Considering some of the ethical missteps, especially on issues of travel, that have befallen other members of Trump’s Cabinet and led to the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price over his liberal use of chartered jets, it is ironic Shulkin was perhaps the only Cabinet appointment who didn’t make Democrats grasp their heads in agony.
That’s because he was a holdover from the Obama administration, where he served for a year and a half as the VA’s undersecretary of health. He had a reputation for competence and knowledge of his field, and unlike, say, Scott Pruitt of the EPA or Betsy DeVos at the Education Department, was not seen as actively hostile to the mission of the agency he was chosen to lead.
Apparently, there are few out there who can work for this administration without putting their ethics on an ice floe and shoving them out to sea.
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