A scathing report released Wednesday criticizes Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin for telling a subordinate to handle personal travel plans for him and his wife during an official trip to Europe. It also criticizes him for improperly accepting Wimbledon tennis tournament tickets as a gift during the trip.
The report, among other "serious derelictions," also accuses Shulkin's chief of staff of potential criminal conduct by making false statements and altering a document so that the Veterans Affairs Department could "improperly" pay for Shulkin's wife to travel to Europe with him, at a cost to taxpayers of $4,312.
The report by the inspector general's office of the VA says that a department worker "effectively acted as a personal travel concierge" to Shulkin and his wife for that trip to Copenhagen and London.
Shuklin and the VA made misstatements to the media about aspects of the trip, the report says, with Shulkin inaccurately claiming to a reporter that he had bought the tennis match tickets.
Inspector General Michael Missal concluded the report by recommending that Shulkin reimburse the VA for his wife's airfare, that he reimburse the woman who gave him the Wimbledon tickets and that Shulkin take appropriate administrative action against his chief of staff, among other steps.
Shulkin, in a response to the report, disputed a number of its conclusions but said he would consult with the VA's general counsel about whether to make the reimbursements recommended. Shulkin also said that the VA had "inadequate opportunity" to review the IG's report in advance of its release.
The White House referred questions about the report to the VA.
VA spokesman Curt Cashour said, "Accountability and transparency are important values at VA under President Trump, and we look forward to reviewing the report and its recommendations in more detail before determining an appropriate response."