Despite inspector general's criminal referral, DoJ will not prosecute VA executives who scammed relocation compensation
Mel Brooks had it only half right. It’s good to be king, but it is also pretty damn good to be a federal bureaucrat, because you can get away with scamming hundreds of thousands of dollars and not be prosecuted. In fact, you can get to keep the money you scammed.
Loretta Lynch’s Justice Department is letting VA executives Diana Rubens and Kimberly Graves to get off scot-free, despite this:
An inspector general report found that Rubens and Graves obtained over $400,000 in relocation expenses, which they received after pushing subordinates out of positions, so that the two could then fill them, reduce their job responsibilities, collect bonus money and receive the same executive-level salaries. At a House Veterans’ Affairs hearing on the matter, both Rubens and Graves pled the Fifth Amendment and declined to answer any questions from Chairman GOP Rep. Jeff Miller.
Nothing suspicious about pleading the Fifth, as the U.S. attorney for D.C. sees it.
The U.S. Attorney's office said it has "referred the matter to the VA for any administrative action that is deemed appropriate."
The VA, for its part, doesn’t want to see the two women prosecuted:
VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson recently said that while Graves and Rubens exercised bad judgment, they did not engage in any wrongdoing.
“In my opinion, the evidence collected by the IG does not support one violation of law. Not one violation of rule. Not even one violation of regulation related to relocation expenses,” Gibson said.
Gibson delivered those remarks despite the fact that Graves and Rubens fiddled with the hiring system and put major pressure on subordinates to vacate those positions and rearrange their lives, so that the two could insert themselves into the positions.
OK, I am not a lawyer, but inducing subordinates to behave in a way that enriches an executive in order to receive funds that she otherwise would not be entitled to sounds like fraud to me. And the IG thought there were violations.
As far as internal punishment goes, at least for now, Rupert and Graves are in the clear:
The VA recently attempted to demote the two executives to general employee status, though the department failed to accomplish that plan because VA counsel forgot to provide Rubens and Graves with a binder of evidence. The VA said it will restart the process and continue with the demotions, though it will not seek to recover any of the fraudulently obtained funds from the executives.
So VA executives are deciding that VA executives can scam money and keep it and manage to make “mistakes” that prevent them from being punished.
As long as we let them get away with it, the abuses will continue – and escalate.