Kellie Lunney at Government Executive writes, in a report on yesterday’s hearings into mismanagement at the Veterans Affairs Department, that:
VA’s inspector general substantiated several allegations during its investigation of the Philadelphia and Oakland facilities. Among the problems in Philadelphia: mail mismanagement, data manipulation, $2.2 million in duplicate payments to veterans, and alleged bullying and retaliation against employees. The facility did not provide responses to more than 31,000 inquiries from vets; the requests had been pending for an average of 312 days. VBA’s policy is that 90 percent of inquiries should receive a response within five business days. In Oakland, the IG found that the staff had not processed thousands of informal requests for benefits dating back years, and had improperly stored formal claims.
One whistleblowing employee at the Oakland VA office testified that
… veterans’ claims were left to collect dust for decades, many of them deemed “no action necessary.”
... told the story of a vet’s widow writing to the department about her deceased husband’s benefits: “She was dead six years by the time we got to that letter.”
Also on the agenda, further questions regarding the senior VA executive who received:
... more than $300,000 in relocation expenses from the federal government … to move ... from Washington to Philadelphia last year, including $211,750 to a contractor through the Appraised Value Offer program, and $84,643.70 ... for expenses including storage of her household goods, subsistence, and shipment of personal items.
Wednesday was not a good day for the VA. In another Government Executive story, Lunney writes that the hearings also dealt with allegations that:
Lucy Filipov, assistant director of VA’s Philadelphia Regional Office ... threw a party at her house that included Gary Hodge, head of the pension management center, his wife, and several employees. So far, okay. Except Hodge’s wife professed to be a medium who could help the living commune with the dead. And the invited guests (employees) allegedly were encouraged to pay her $30 each for that experience. Soliciting money from subordinates in the federal government is a no-no.
Filipov was at the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing…
And when asked:
… directly about the supernatural soiree. She said she was told by an employee of the inspector general’s office that she could not discuss the matter as it is “part of an ongoing investigation.”
The hearings go on, the corruption continues, and the embedded bureaucrats stonewall in the conviction – probably correct – that they can outlast congress and the general sense of outrage over how the VA has treated the people for whom it was designed to care … as opposed to the way it has treated itself … with bonuses and 300k relocation payments.
And, one suspects that they can, indeed, outlast the outrage.
My colleague Jay Cost flags this Newsweek article, which is ostensibly about the scandalous revelation that one of the largest Clinton Foundation donor has trade ties to Iran. But here's the first paragraph:
The Republican National Committee is kicking off a paid online ad campaign just ahead of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign announcement. Clinton is expected to make the much anticipated move as early as this weekend.
The ad campaign features this ad, called "Stop Hillary," and is meant to target independent and swing voters:
James Carville, a former aide to Bill Clinton and a longtime defender of the Clintons, offered an explanation on ABC's This Week as to why Hillary Clinton might have used a private email account: to avoid congressional oversight.
Hillary Clinton was the butt of a joke from the commander in chief Saturday night in Washington. The line was delivered at the secretive Gridiron Club dinner, an annual event held by club made up of journalists.
It’s worth keeping score on how progressives are reacting to the Clinton email problems. Some of them (like Eugene Robinson) are tentatively pushing the issue now, one assumes because they don’t especially like Clinton and think that this might be the moment to pull a more liberal challenger into the race.
Stephen F. Hayes reported on Fox News that Hillary Clinton's top two aides, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, used personal emails while working for the secretary of state at the State Department:
"Two of Hillary Clinton's top aides used personal email while they were employed at the State Department, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills. Hillary Clinton's chief of staff. The State Department has evidence of this.
During her press appearance today, Hillary Clinton acknowledged that about 60,000 emails, including sent and received, went through her home email server that she used during her tenure as secretary of state. About half of those, she said, were work related. UPI reports: