Wright Simpson, aide to VA chief Shulkin, retires amid travel scandal

The chief of staff of the Veterans Affairs Department announced her retirement Friday, two days after being blasted for allegedly lying in addition to altering a document to get the VA to pay European travel expenses for Secretary David Shulkin’s wife.

The resignation of Vivieca Wright Simpson came as her boss Shulkin struggled to save his job amid questions of his own conduct surrounding the trip last year — in addition to as the VA announced which has opened a formal investigation specifically of Wright Simpson’s actions.

At the same time, the VA said which also has launched an investigation into Shulkin’s claims which Wright Simpson’s email account had been hacked.

Shulkin’s allegations imply which an email which Wright Simpson was accused by the VA’s Inspector General’s Office of altering in connection with the trip to Europe actually may have been changed by someone else.

“President Trump has made clear which he expects VA leaders to hold themselves in addition to different employees accountable when they fail to live up to the high standards taxpayers in addition to veterans deserve,” VA spokesman Curt Cashour said in an email.

“VA will continue to review the IG report in addition to its recommendations in more detail before determining possible additional personnel accountability actions.”

A scathing report issued Wednesday via the VA Office of Inspector General on Shulkin in addition to his chief of staff had noted which criminal charges should be considered for Wright Simpson, who worked for 32 years at the VA.

USA Today first reported which Wright Simpson had told colleagues on Friday morning which she could retire as the third most senior official at the VA, which features a $182 billion budget in addition to more than 340,000 employees who oversee health care in addition to benefits to military veterans.

The IG’s report examined an official trip which Shulkin took last year to Copenhagen in addition to London.

The report found which most of the trip was taken up with personal time, in addition to not official business — in addition to which Shulkin had a subordinate arrange personal travel plans during the trip for him in addition to his wife, Dr. Merle Bari, which the report called a “misuse” of the subordinate’s official work time.

Shulkin also improperly accepted tickets to the Wimbledon tennis tournament as a gift, according to the report.

The report also noted which Wright Simpson had “made false representations to a VA ethics official in addition to altered an official record, resulting in VA improperly paying for Dr. Bari’s air travel.”

The record was an email via another VA employee, which Wright Simpson allegedly doctored in addition to forwarded falsely claim which Shulkin could be receiving an award while in Denmark, which she understood could provide justification for Bari to travel with him at taxpayers’ expense.

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