Politics

Judge Crushes VA’s Attempt To Demote Corrupt Senior Executive

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Jonah Bennett Contributor

A judge just reversed the Department of Veterans Affairs attempt to demote corrupt senior executive Kimberly Graves, and House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman GOP Rep. [crscore]Jeff Miller[/crscore] is furious.

The Merit Systems Protection Board batted down the VA’s decision after an appeal. Graves will soon return to her position in the senior executive service, Government Executive reports.

“The outcome of this case is a slap in the face to the many dedicated VA employees who do the right thing on a daily basis. In a twist of tragic comedy, VA’s attempt to discipline Kimberly Graves was undone by its refusal to discipline other employees involved in this scandal,” Miller said in a statement.

“Time and again, Congress has tried to make it easier for VA to discipline poorly performing employees, yet incredibly the department and the administration have fought us at nearly every turn. Enough is enough,” Miller added. “Every objective observer knows that the federal civil service system coddles and protects misbehaving employees instead of facilitating fair and efficient discipline.”

It’s not clear why Graves was successful in her appeal because the ruling hasn’t been posted yet. Diana Rubens, the other executive involved in the relocation benefits scandal, will receive word of whether her demotion appeal was successful Feb. 1.

The VA failed in its first demotion attempt because legal counsel for the department failed to provide Rubens and Graves with a crucial binder of evidence used in the case against the two.

The case consisted of an inspector general report, which found that Graves and Rubens pushed subordinates out of their positions so the two could then fill them, accept relocation benefits and keep their executive-level salaries while having fewer responsibilities.

VA officials insisted they would restart the process post-haste and make sure those officials were removed.

Both Graves and Rubens received demotions from the department Jan. 6 and were given regular roles as general employees, even though at that level the two still made six-figure salaries. What’s more, the VA refused to attempt to recoup $400,000 in wrongfully obtained benefits given to Graves and Rubens. VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson also claimed that the two executives exercised bad judgment and did not engage in wrongdoing.

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