Obama-era appointees remain in top posts at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) three months into Donald Trump’s presidency. This includes disgraced former under-secretary for benefits Allison Hickey, who is now helping choose her successor, The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group has learned.
Then-candidate Trump called the VA the “most corrupt” and “most incompetently run” agency and said the leadership was rife with political hacks. Yet the panel picked to select candidates for undersecretary positions is staffed with Obama-holdovers and, in Hickey’s case, a VA official forced to resign under fire.
The top contender for Hickey’s old job is Thomas Murphy, one of two authors of the notorious 2013 “fast letter” that instructed benefits offices nationwide to put current dates on old disability claims.
Murphy played an integral role in the wait-time scandal that upended the agency and which Trump has promised to fix. The letter dealt with how disability compensation claims were processed and concealed official statistics regarding how long vets wait for appointments. The date changes allowed VA managers to claim improvements without actually fixing problems.
The VA Inspector General concluded the letter forced staff “to adjust the dates of claims for un-adjudicated claims found in claims folders to reflect a current date,” which rendered unreliable the “timeliness measures for processing claims.”
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