Fiddling the expenses

Trump’s proposed budget (which mercifully won’t get through Congress) slashes science and the arts and humanities, while in another part of the forest his hires steal public money in every creative way they can think of. The latest example:

Veterans Affairs Secretary David J. Shulkin’s chief of staff doctored an email and made false statements to create a pretext for taxpayers to cover expenses for the secretary’s wife on a 10-day trip to Europe last summer, the agency’s inspector general has found.

Vivieca Wright Simpson, VA’s third-most senior official, altered language in an email from an aide coordinating the trip to make it appear that Shulkin was receiving an award from the Danish government — then used the award to justify paying for his wife’s travel, Inspector General Michael J. Missal said in a report released Wednesday. VA paid more than $4,300 for her airfare.

The account of how the government paid travel expenses for the secretary’s wife is one finding in an unsparing investigation that concluded that Shulkin and his staff misled agency ethics officials and the public about key details of the trip. Shulkin also improperly accepted a gift of sought-after tickets to a Wimbledon tennis match, the investigation found, and directed an aide coordinating the trip to act as what the report called a “personal travel concierge” to him and his wife.

The Secretary and his delegation’s three and a half days of meetings in Copenhagen and London  cost $122,334 and the inspector general doesn’t know exactly how much of that was stolen for personal use, but it’s not lunch money.

Shulkin is one of five current and former Trump administration Cabinet members under investigation by agency inspectors general over their travel expenses, an issue that forced Tom Price to resign as Health and Human Services secretary in the fall.

Not that it’s a pattern or anything.

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