VA official who pocketed $130K in taxpayer funds quietly reinstated
Who says crime doesn't pay?
Kimberly Graves, former head of a VA regional office in Minnesota, was caught by the VA inspector general manipulating the system to pocket $130,000. Instead of going to jail, she was demoted. Now the Merit Systems Protection Board has ruled that the VA acted improperly and reinstated Graves to her former position.
Kimberly Graves, former head of a VA regional office in Minnesota, appeared before the Merit Systems Protection Board Wednesday to appeal the VA's decision to strip her of her title in the wake of a scathing inspector general report. That report found Graves hadpressured a colleague to leave his job so she could manipulate an employee relocation program and pocket nearly $130,000
Diana Rubens, another VA official named in the watchdog report, will learn her fate Monday. Rubens was accused by the inspector general of creating a less-demanding position for herself at the VA's regional office in Philadelphia, then netting $274,000 in moving benefits to take the job.
The VA demoted both Graves and Rubens in response to the findings, although both officials took their cases to the Merit Systems Protection Board, which weighs personnel disputes at agencies across the federal government.
For VA chief Robert McDonald, this is not unusual. The scandal involving long wait times for VA patients resulted in slaps on the wrist and few firings:
McDonald has come under fire for declining to fire most of the officials involved in a nationwide effort to hide long delays in veterans' healthcare by creating fake patient waiting lists at 110 VA facilities. The fallout from the ensuing controversy cost his predecessor the agency's top job and led to a period of intense public scrutiny of the VA.
Even so, just three officials involved in the wait time scandal lost their jobs on McDonald's watch. Others were placed on extended paid leave or shuffled to different positions within the agency rather than punished for their activities.
McDonald has repeatedly declined to provide a reliable figure when asked how many employees he has removed for misconduct amid his many promises to clean up a perceived culture of corruption within the agency.
McDonald came into office promising to change the culture at the VA. Instead, he appears to be enabling the wrongdoing.