The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has no intention of recovering the relocation bonuses fraudulently obtained by VA executives, so Congress stepped up with a bill to force the VA’s hand.
Introduced earlier this week by GOP Rep. [crscore]Jeff Miller[/crscore], chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee (HVAC), the bill grants authority to VA secretary Robert McDonald to require an employee to “repay the amount, or a portion of the amount, paid to or on behalf of the employee under title 5 for relocation expenses.”
But the process isn’t as easy as a single directive from the secretary. First, the employee has to be given a certain amount of notice, and second, the employee has to have the opportunity for a hearing.
The legislation comes after an inspector general report showed VA executives Diana Rubens and Kimberly Graves pushed subordinates out of coveted jobs, so Rubens and Graves could then fill the now-empty positions and collect incredibly generous relocation bonuses. They collected over $400,000 in taxpayer funds.
While the VA demoted Rubens and Graves to general employee status, the department released a statement saying it will not seek a return of the relocation funds. Legislators interpreted the VA’s inaction as a de-facto endorsement of a fraudulent use of relocation funds. Both will still bring in more than $100,000 each a year. (RELATED: VA Execs Demoted, But Get To Keep Their Jobs And Fraud Money)
At an HVAC hearing on the issue, Rubens and Graves plead the Fifth Amendment to avoid answering any of the committee’s questions. (RELATED: Two Senior VA Officials Plead The Fifth Amendment At Hearing)
“VA’s handling of this situation effectively gives corruption and fraud among department employees an official VA seal of approval,” Miller said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Diana Rubens and Kimberly Graves defrauded the government of a total of more than $400,000. An inspector general report proves this is the case. That’s why VA’s refusal to recoup the massive, taxpayer-funded relocation payments Rubens and Graves benefitted from is utterly inexplicable and downright indefensible.”
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