The deputy secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that two senior VA officials accused of stealing more than $400,000 from taxpayers by manipulating the Department of Veterans Affairs hiring system for their own gain were only guilty of using bad judgment.
You read that right...taxpayer fraud to the tune of over $400,000 is not a crime in the eyes of the VA, but only a little bad judgement.
If you find that announcement dumbfounding and enraging, you are not alone. House lawmakers were also extremely frustrated and angry at Department of Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson's testimony earlier this week.
According to reports, the deputy secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs said Wednesday that two executives under federal investigation for collecting $400,000 in a relocation scheme are actually innocent of any crimes or ethical lapses.
"In my opinion, the evidence collected by the IG does not support one violation of law. Not one violation of rule. Not even one violation of regulation related to relocation expenses," Gibson told the House Veterans Affairs Committee. "The easy option for me would have been to propose removal. I didn't come to VA to do the easy thing."
You may remember that we reported last month that the VA decided to only demote - not fire - Diana Rubens, former director of the Philadelphia Regional Office, and Kimberly Graves, former director of the St. Paul Regional Office.
And even those demotions were botched by the VA when its attorneys failed to provide the women with all the evidence against them. In other words, they still haven't been demoted which means they are still collecting higher salaries.
On top of that, it was also announced that the two VA officials accused of fraud would not have to pay back the more than $400,000 they are accused of stealing - or using bad judgement to take wrongfully (depending on who you ask) - because it was approved by other employees who believed the payments were merited.
Here's what the Stars and Stripes reported Miller having to say on the subject.
"Mr. Gibson, I think your statement is pretty damn inconsistent," said Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., Veterans Affairs chairman. "We're all educated enough to know the definition of accountability but you and the secretary have decided to change that definition."
Miller said he was "dumbfounded" by Gibson's position on Rubens and Graves and that the IG investigation shows more than poor judgement. Miller compared the VA decision allowing Rubens and Graves to keep the relocation bonuses to bank robbers who are allowed to keep stolen money.
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