Ranking Member Walz: Unacceptable for VA to Stonewall Congressional Inquiry into Mar-a-Lago Shadow Rulers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Tim Walz (D-MN), released the following statement after he sent a letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie urging the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to comply with an August 8 request to provide the Committee any and all communications between VA officials and Ike Perlmutter, Bruce Moskowitz, and Marc Sherman as well as travel records to and from Mar-a-Lago.
The August 8 request followed news reports that the three men, all members of President Trump’s private Palm Beach, Florida club Mar-a-Lago, had been secretly exerting sweeping influence over VA and the administration’s approach to veterans policy. Today’s letter was sent in response to VA’s refusal to comply with the August 8 request, which was conveyed to the committee in a letter received from Secretary Wilkie on September 28.
“VA’s refusal to cooperate with this inquiry is absolutely unacceptable,” said Ranking Member Walz. “When the story of VA shadow rulers at Mar-a-Lago first broke, my office immediately reached out to VA requesting information pertaining to the three individuals’ influence over the Department. Since then, we have received nothing from VA except excuses. The reports of corruption and cronyism are serious and we cannot allow VA to sweep this under the rug. This issue will remain a top concern of the Committee until all our questions have been answered.”
The text of the letter is available below and online here:
The Honorable Robert Wilkie
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20420
October 9, 2018
Dear Secretary Wilkie:
I am writing in response to your letter dated September 14, 2018 and delivered electronically September 28, nearly a month past its August 31 deadline.
Your letter fails to satisfy my request for documents and information regarding the sweeping influence of Mr. Ike Perlmutter, Dr. Bruce Moskowitz, and Mr. Marc Sherman over policy and personnel decisions made by the Department of Veterans Affairs during the Trump Presidency. Your letter references litigation over Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) violations as the reason for refusing to comply with my request. The Department’s involvement in litigation, relevant or not to a request for information from Congress, does not exempt it from complying with a Congressional request.
My request was made on August 8, 2018, eight days before the Plaintiff in the FACA litigation you reference filed its complaint in Federal court. The Department cannot hide behind litigation that commenced over a week after the request was made as an excuse to ignore an inquiry from Congress.
Furthermore, your letter reads as a transparent attempt to stonewall not only a Member of Congress but also the American public on a matter of significant importance to our nation’s veterans. Be assured, this issue will remain a top concern of the Committee until all our questions have been answered.
Due to your failure to address my original request, I ask again that you provide the documents and information requested in my August 8, 2018 letter to the Committee no later than 5:00 p.m. on October 31, 2018.