Republican Threatens To Subpoena VA Over Lavish Art Spending

Thomas Phippen | Reporter

A Republican Congressman threatened to subpoena the Department of Veterans Affairs if they fail to provide a complete report on art purchased in the past 6 years.

Florida Republican Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, gave VA secretary Robert McDonald until Aug. 26 to deliver a full accounting of artwork purchases.

If the VA fails to provide the information, “the [Veterans Affairs] Committee will not hesitate to pursue a subpoena in order to effectuate their immediate release,” Miller said in the letter.

Miller first requested a report on the VA’s art spending in October 2015, but the department has not provided the information, or even responded to the request, according to Miller’s letter.

One thing Miller wants to know is just how much the VA spent on art since 2010. The VA came under criticism for their art spending in July when watchdog group American Transparency estimated that the department spent $20 million on art over the past decade. Miller believes that estimate is too low, noting that artwork for a single VA hospital project in Palo Alto, Calif., cost taxpayers more than $6.4 million.

“Either the reported $20 million, 10-year total is incomplete, or the Palo Alto Health Care System expenditures represent an extraordinarily large portion of the VA’s nationwide spending,” Miller said in his letter.

Miller’s letter is not the one calling for the VA to give an account. Sen. Mark Kirk demanded that VA Secretary Robert McDonald place “an immediate moratorium on art purchases until a Congressionally approved process is formally instated” in a letter last week.

Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst proposed to prohibit the VA’s art spending in an amendment to a large appropriations bill in May, but the amendment wasn’t picked up.

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Tags : department of veterans affairs house committee on veterans affairs jeff miller joni ernst mark kirk robert mcdonald
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