Inspector General To Review VA Secretary’s Trip To Europe

In this photo taken April 27, 2017, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is seen at the Veterans Affairs Department in Washington. Shulkin says his department is seeking to close perhaps more than 1,100 VA facil... In this photo taken April 27, 2017, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is seen at the Veterans Affairs Department in Washington. Shulkin says his department is seeking to close perhaps more than 1,100 VA facilities nationwide as it develops plans to allow more veterans to receive medical care in the private sector. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File) MORE LESS
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October 4, 2017 8:52 a.m.

The inspector general’s office at the Department of Veterans Affairs will review VA Secretary David Shulkin’s taxpayer-funded trip to Europe over the summer with his wife, where he attended official events and spent time touring, CNN reported Tuesday night.

The probe marks the fifth inspector general review of a Cabinet head’s travel. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and ousted Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price have all come under inspector general review for their use of private or government planes.

During a July trip to Europe, Shulkin met with British and Danish officials about veterans’ health. However, he also spent time on the trip attending Wimbledon, touring Westminster Abbey, and relaxing on a cruise on the Thames, the Washington Post reported last week. The government paid for Shulkin and his wife to fly to Europe and also gave them both a per-diem to pay for their meals and other expenses, according to the Post.

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It’s not clear just how much the government paid for flights for Shulkin and his wife, Merle Bari, but if the government paid the full per-diem for each of the 10 days that Bari was in Europe, the government could have spent up to $3,600 for her meals and expenses, per the Washington Post.

VA press secretary Curt Cashour told the Post that Shulkin’s itinerary on the trip had been approved by the agency’s ethics office.

“These were important trips with our allies to discuss best practices for taking care of veterans,” Cashour said. “The secretary has been transparent on his down-time activities that were similar to what he would have done with his family over a weekend in the U.S.”

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