WASHINGTON (WAVY) — The headquarters for the Department of Veterans Affairs is in Washington, but the power center is in South Florida at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Country Club.
That’s the allegation from an investigative report released this week, claiming that three close friends of the president are quietly influencing the VA because they can talk with him directly.
A report published this week in ProPublica says the three advisors kept in almost daily contact with high-ranking VA officials — affecting department policy and personnel.
They are an entertainment CEO, a doctor and an attorney. The news has already sparked an investigation on Capitol Hill and anger among veterans.
The VA is the largest single provider of medical services in the country, including the Hampton VA Medical Center, and handles benefits and burials for thousands of veterans in Hampton Roads.
The American Legion, representing nearly two million veterans, had this response:
“We hope that (the president) carefully considers the qualifications and motivations of those offering that advice when it comes to the treatment and wellbeing of America’s veterans…. we offer him firsthand expertise, free and untainted by partisan interests.”
“If these revelations prove true, then VA is being secretly run from the shadows of Mar-a-Lago by men with no accountability … This is textbook corruption and cronyism,” said Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.
Walz has opened an investigation and wants any and all correspondence regarding the shadow advisors’ contact with the dept.
A DVA spokesman sent a statement that read in part: “We appreciate hearing from experts both inside and outside VA… This broad range of input has helped us immensely over the last year and a half. Under President Trump’s leadership, VA has made groundbreaking progress, particularly in the areas of accountability, transparency and efficiency.”
Robert Wilkie was just confirmed late last month as Secretary of the VA, the department’s fourth different chief in as many years.