Sen. Richard Blumenthal is tired of tales of misconduct from the Department of Veterans Affairs, so he is asking the Department of Justice to do something about it.
After a Sept. 28 OIG report found that two VA executives abused their positions in order to take jobs with less responsibility, while keeping higher salaries, Blumenthal, D.-Conn., has penned a letter asking Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate misconduct at the troubled department.
"This scheme to defraud taxpayers and manipulate the system is, unfortunately, only the latest example of unacceptable misconduct by VA employees," Blumenthal said in the letter. "This behavior is unacceptable for any federal employee, but it is particularly egregious in this case because it evinces a mindset that puts veterans last."
The report detailed how Diana Rubens and Kimberly Graves allegedly pressured subordinates to accept position transfers only to volunteer for the vacated jobs while keeping their original salaries and having the VA pay them relocation benefits.
The report recommended criminal charges for the pair, who collectively accepted $403,000 in moving costs from the VA and were shown to have actively created the position vacancies for their own benefit.
The report is only the latest black eye in a series of scandals, Blumenthal noted as he called for the DOJ to investigate not only the two executives, but also a number of other cases brought by the VA's inspector general related the manipulation of wait times for medical appointments.
"DOJ has an essential role to play in helping to hold any bad actors fully accountable across VA," the letter said. "Whether through providing guidance to VAOIG, issuing special instructions to United States Attorneys' offices, or taking other steps, I encourage you to fully and expeditiously pursue potential theories of liability in these and similar cases."
The inspector general's investigation into Rubens and Graves also found that VA used relocation benefits as "as a method to justify annual salary increases" for senior executives, spending $1.8 million in three years.