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Director of Phoenix VA Hospital Where Vets Died from Delays Received $8,500 Bonus in April (Update: Bonus Rescinded)

2:00 PM, May 21, 2014 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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The director of the Phoenix VA hospital where 40 veterans died while waiting for care received an $8,500 bonus last month, according to Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. 

Eric Shinseki official Veterans Affairs portrait

Sharon Helman, the director of the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System, "got an $8,500 bonus last month while there was an open [inspector general] investigation into Phoenix," Chairman Miller told CNN's Jake Tapper in an interview Wednesday.

It had been previously reported that Helman received more than $9,000 in bonus pay in 2013 on top of her annual salary of $169,900. The VA office of inspector general began investigating the Phoenix VA for wrongdoing in December 2013, months before Helman received the additional $8,500 bonus.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, Secretary Eric Shinseki "is the final decision maker regarding performance ratings and awards." VA spokesmen did not immediately respond to an inquiry from THE WEEKLY STANDARD asking if Shinseki signed off on Helman's $8,500 bonus in April. 

Chairman Jeff Miller said that VA officials told him that the Helman's new bonus was the result of "an administrative error" made by a "low-level person" in the department.

Update: The VA announced this afternoon: “Secretary Shinseki today exercised his authority to rescind Sharon Helman’s fiscal year 2013 performance award immediately.  Previously, Ms. Helman received the performance award due to an administrative error.”

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