WASHINGTON – Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin on Thursday pledged to pay back more than $4,000 for his wife’s airfare for an 11-day trip to Europe, that the mixed company and sights.
Testify during a hearing of the House, Shulkin said he accepts responsibility for making mistakes after a government investigation found “serious derelictions” in the handling of the trip, including improperly accepting of Wimbledon tennis tickets.
The report Wednesday by the Department of Veterans Affairs’ internal watchdog concluded that Shulkin staff had lied, that he was getting an award to justify his wife with him at taxpayer expense on the July trip to England and Denmark.
“I recognize the optics of this are not good,” Shulkin told the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, where the emphasis is that he wants to “make things right.”
Shulkin said that he would pay back the airfare, and to respond to the inspector general’s recommendation that he cover the cost of Wimbledon tickets.
His comments came as several lawmakers rebuked him clear abuse of the taxpayers ‘ money and called to him to better explain his actions in the coming weeks.
A legislator, Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., has demanded that Shulkin dismissal. The expression of impatience on Thursday with a number of Shulkin the explanation, Coffman said: “It is not the optics that is not good. It is the facts that are not good.”
Two Democrats in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee urged the commission to hold a hearing with Shulkin and his chief of staff, Vivieca Wright Simpson. She is accused of doctoring e-mails to help secure the free trip for Shulkin to the woman.
The hearing would be part of the committee’s inquiry into suspected travel abuses by the Trump administration.