VA Execs Demoted

Benjamin KrauseDepartment of Veterans Affairs acknowledged Friday that it finally demoted VA execs Diana Rubens and Kimberly Graves for manipulating pay systems for personal gain, but lawmakers question why they will not be prosecuted.

Doesn’t this make you wonder exactly what kind of fraud a VA executive would get in trouble for? Maybe at certain levels, Federal executives are above the law?

RELATED: Rubens Mocks Congress Over Fraud Investigation

On Christmas Eve, Federal prosecutors announced they will not pursue the case against the duo. Last Friday, VA announced that it finally demoted the two. Americans are wondering what it will take for the Obama Administration to prosecute agency executives who apparently commit a laundry list of white-collar crime at taxpayer expense.

STATEMENT ON VA EXECS’ DEMOTIONS

Chairman Jeff Miller gave a stinging indictment on Fox News last Thursday:

“FBI Director James Comey waded into VA’s secret wait-list scandal by announcing an investigation into the matter and vowing to pursue wrongdoing ‘wherever the facts take us.’”

“More than 18 months later, it’s entirely unclear where the facts have taken the Department of Justice. The attorney general seems uninformed regarding even the most basic elements of the investigation, DoJ officials have refused to answer lawmakers’ questions on the matter, and meanwhile the agency is slamming the door shut on investigations nearly as fast as VA’s inspector general is referring them to DoJ.”

“That’s why it’s incumbent upon Attorney General Lynch to clear up the widespread confusion regarding this situation by promptly answering our questions.”

“Otherwise, we’ll never be able to solve the mystery surrounding why just a handful of people have been punished for a scandal that rocked the entire VA. But perhaps that’s just how the administration wants it.”

Do you think anyone at DOJ was listening? Not likely.

BACKGROUND ON RUBENS, GRAVES INCIDENT

Rubens and Graves were found to have manipulated VA payment schemes and standards to the detriment of their subordinates for their own personal gain. The two were very high-ranking VA SES executives who created lower ranking vacancies at locations they wanted to move to by displacing subordinates.

RELATED: VA Lectures Congress About ‘Accountability’ Definition

After accepting the vacancies they created at two Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) Regional Offices, Graves and Rubens also accepted over $420,000 collectively in moving incentives. However, since they created the positions and volunteered for them, they were not entitled to the monies but took the funds anyway.

VA OIG investigated the allegations and referred the case to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for possible prosecution. DOJ refused to prosecute after reviewing the case for less than three months.

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/01/08/va-execs-finally-demoted-for-scamming-system-but-lawmaker-wants-charges-brought.print.html

19 COMMENTS

  1. Demoted is not really qualified in article unless I am missing something this morning?!!?!
    Is this the original recommended “demotion” that only demoted them one level but because of their “seniority”, will STILL EARN the higher pay grade? Do they still NOT have to pay any $$$ back?

    I really feel that in order to show as an “accountability lesson”, the VA should have FIRED THEM with NO PENSION and use them as an “administrative example” to deter future “gaming of system”….but we have a spineless, invisible presence VA Secretary that I suspect that VA Sec. Bob McDonald threw her under the VA Bus instead of admitting fault and failure in his leadership…I am still wanting to know more details about why Undersecretary Hickey abruptly “resigned” because I am thinking there was MUCH MORE to that story that we probably will never know because the VA has already redefined and spit-out the definition of “accountability”…more like ripped it out of all their dictionaries.

    Obama’s DOJ is as about as useful/helpful as poison ivy is for toilet paper when camping.

    • Can you imagine the dirt these two rug muffins have on a lot of people I would love to hear them start singing, yes I would like to know about also Undersecretary Hickey abruptly “resigned” these people are covering up a bunch of all the way to the White House and then some just a big bunch of pocket stuffers with no regard for veterans………..

  2. @namnibor and others today!
    I agree 100% with your assessment of the DOJ, Sec. McDonald and VA’s inability to protect veterans and taxpayers from the massive “fraud, waste and abuse!” which is VA!
    Why hasn’t anyone heard from McDonald? Where is he hiding? Why is he hiding? What’s he afraid of? Who is he trying to screw now? What plans has he in store for veterans and taxpayers next?

    Here’s some interesting facts;
    1.) a “bill”, which had been introduced to Congress, “will be voted on 13 Jan. to impeach the President!”

    2.) a “majority of states have
    sued the government” to stop the refugees from entering. (If I’m remembering correctly it’s something like 32 to 36 states.)

    3.) Oklahoma has passed State legislation to:
    a.) returning of the “10 Commandments” onto State Capital building steps!
    b.) Driver’s license exams will ONLY be in English. Their reason: all road signs are in English!
    There were a few more “State Laws” passed, but y’all get the point.

    4.) There’s a push “By the People” to get a majority of states Representatives to have Congress relinquish much of their alleged powers. I can’t remember which Constitutional Amendment they’re using. Only it’s perfectly legal.

    Here’s something many on the different Social Media’s have noticed about Obama. Seems he doesn’t, in many people’s opinion, look that good. In their opinion, and mine, they feel as if he finally bit off more than he could chew. Basically he has “Awakened a Sleeping Giant!” And doesn’t know what to do! First, by getting that ridiculous budget passed. And now the “Attempted Gun Grab” of law abiding citizens.
    His inability as POTUS to “stay within the confines of the Constitution IS an impeachable offense!”

    There’s a bunch more going on out there. Only, I thought y’all needed some good news this morning. Since all we’ve been getting is bad news.

    • Where is Secretary “MC Bob” you ask? I have it on good authority that the fearless leader is going to Vietnam to take part in the ground breaking ceremony for a New VA Regional Office in HO CHI MINIH CITY. Is he expecting a ground swell of geriatric Vietnam veterans ascending on Vietnam society??????????

      • I heard something about “old Vietnamese soldiers” being allowed to use VA service’s! Don’t know how true, yet this might be the reason he’s over there!
        As far as I’m concerned, they “used America to fight a war they knew couldn’t be won!” And our own government wouldn’t let us win it either. Now McDonald is going to allow them to rape our economy. I wonder if he’s going to give them (soldiers and children) money for disabilities they received during the war?
        He never served over there. Hell, he was at West Point AFTER the war ended (1975). So, what the fμ€k is that asshole doing spending taxpayers money on a VA facility over there?

        Rant over for now Hondo.

  3. Bringing their politics threw the doors of the facilities that Never should have and then getting thrown under the bus by the pols, and those poser patriots served, seeking them needed media hyped ‘scandals’, oft repeated as nothing is done previously by same, to further their own poser patriotism and job security!!

    * * When Wealthy Country Served Readily Markets Vets While Most Slam Doors On Them * *

    DeJa-Vu: “With no shared sacrifices being asked of civilians after Sept. 11″, Decades and War From, All Over Again!!

    * * CBS – December 25, 2015 – Phoenix VA whistleblowers say hospital still lacks doctors * *
    * Whistleblowers charge the hospital is missing something essential: enough doctors.>>>> *

    Ready fodder for the,poser, flag waving patriots, especially agreeing with the media reports seeking them conservative hyped ‘scandals’, more often then not long standing issues brought back because congress and country still hadn’t done a thing about them just with rephrased FOX speak while not even knowing what is actually going on and has been, and the corporate use of same patriotism, what’s a few bucks loss, using the very few who serve or served the masses, when the rest feel you’re as ‘patriotic’ as they are!! While all, especially the wealthy, not only ignored many issues but outright deny many of same issues even exist!!

    The conservative ideology: Like our long time, us Vietnam and frankly all Combat Theaters, Veterans Conservative, one of their experts(?), used to shape their policies, very highly compensated Nemesis: * * Sally Satel Still Selling Care for PTSD Veterans is Waste of Money * * There are plenty of others, they’ve got a ready stable full of {experts?}, and plenty of ignored and denied issues!!

    * * NPR – December 23, 2015 – Homeless Veterans Face Challenges Beyond The Rental Check * *
    * The Obama administration says it wants to end veterans homelessness by the end of this year — but it’s not going to happen. That’s partly because, despite government support, many landlords remain reluctant to rent to homeless individuals.>>>> *

    “Why in 2009 were we still using paper?” VA Assistant Secretary Tommy Sowers “When we came in, there was no plan to change that; we’ve been operating on a six month wait for over a decade.” 27 March 2013

    ‘I fight like hell to pay as little as possible’: Donald Trump says he avoids all the tax he can
    What he and those like aren’t burdened with are the costs, infrastructure, more then roads and bridges, etc. for new and to maintain all that’s needed for them and their investors to be successful, maintain that success and enrich themselves from. Including profitting from our wars, especially with a more privatized military, and the results from including the veterans of as they seek to privatize the peoples responsibility the VA! While their employee’s, their supporters and all the rest are burdened with those costs. If not with taxes then with targetted even more costly fee’s, for what would be government services those fee’s, and needed taxes, grow as more of government is privatized for corporate profit, profit not shared in the labor from!!
    * * Trump, the whole country{?} ‘loves vets {?}, really loves using us, hates the VA {!}’, all conservatives do, not yet privatized completely for corporate profit with no regulation, Hasn’t ‘Sacrificed’ a Dime For Either * *

    Chris Hayes : “If you can run a deficit to go to war, you can run a deficit to take care of the people who fought it” In response to Republican, long ago lost as the party of Lincoln and not just as to us Veterans, opposition to expanding Veterans’ benefits on fiscal grounds.

    USN All Shore ’67-’71 GMG3 Vietnam In Country ’70-’71 – Independent**

  4. Do you think a reasonable person would consider this grounds to DEMOTE a VARO Director? By any standard other then VA’s I’d say a resounding yes, but we’re dealing with the VA so standards be damned………………….

    Follow Up Review on the Mismanagement of Informal Claims Processing at the VA Regional Office Oakland, California
    01/07/2016 07:00 PM EST

    In our previous report, Review of Alleged Mismanagement of Informal Claims Processing at VA Regional Office Oakland, California (Report No. 14 03981 119, February 18, 2015), we substantiated the allegation that VA Regional Office (VARO) Oakland staff had not processed or properly stored informal claims for benefits. During an April 2015 House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs testimony, the Office of Inspector General received a request from Congressman Doug LaMalfa to conduct a follow up review at VARO Oakland. This request was based on an allegation that management had a list of 13,184 unprocessed informal claims for benefits. Additionally, Congresswoman Jackie Speier asked us to determine whether VARO staff altered dates of claim. We did not find evidence of the existence of the alleged list of approximately 13,184 informal claims even after interviews with current and former VARO staff, whistleblowers, and members of a previous Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) management support team. We reviewed 60 of 1,308 informal claims and found VARO staff had incorrectly processed 6 claims. Five errors contained incorrect effective dates that resulted in approximately $26,325 in improper payments. We also determined Oakland staff did not timely process 9 of the 60 claims resulting in significant delays in benefit payments to veterans. The delays ranged from approximately 5 years to 7 years and 8 months. Through information obtained from VARO staff, we obtained an additional list of 690 claims. We provided management with the list to determine whether staff had correctly processed these potential informal claims. VARO management did not provide the oversight needed to ensure timely and accurate processing of informal claims, to include the 1,308 identified in March 2015. As a result, veterans did not receive accurate or timely benefits payments. We recommended the VARO Oakland Director provide training to staff on proper informal claims processing procedures, conduct a complete review of the additional list of 690 claims that may be informal claims, and to conduct another review of the remaining 1,248 informal claims. The VARO Director concurred with our recommendations. Management’s planned actions are responsive and we will follow up as required.

  5. They should have been fired, prosecuted for fraud, waste and abuse. Will they pay the money back they stole? What about the homeless Vet’s that some may have died on the streets because these two were wasting resources; aren’t they culpable to some degree? This is just another example of why the VHA needs to go away

    • I agree. How on Earth can that be grounds for simple demotion? Where I currently work you get fired and arrested if you get caught stealing anything. This crap just makes even more angry that the VA keeps denying some of my claims as being non service connected when I spent the last 20 years in and the issue happened while I was in. Now if it goes through it won’t be enough to get past the threshold for the last 10%. Some politicians have tried to say that us returning vets are a threat and need to have our 2nd Amendment rights stripped away, well if we were really that dangerous there would have been a lot more news about VA offices by now.

  6. Questions.

    1. What were they demoted to? What position? What is their pay? What are their decision-making responsibilities?
    2. Why did Sloan Gibson initially decide to do nothing about this?
    3. Was this policy that was manipulated? If so, what policies or steps have been taken to stop this from happening again?
    4. How many veterans were denied care of any kind in which cost was cited as the reason?
    5. Why did the DOJ refuse to prosecute if the FBI recommended it?
    6. What hearings will Miller hold to answer these and other questions? Will he take steps to cut off funding from uncooperative federal agencies?
    7. If Lynch continues to give Miller the finger, will he move to impeach her?
    8. Will Miller investigate how many whistle blowers have been retaliated against and fired compared to VA employees being prosecuted or fired for wrongdoing?
    9. Will someone wake up Johnny Isakson and tell him it’s time to resign?

  7. To steal or redirect funds from most Federal Agencies is a Termination offense, which requires a fine or jail time. Steal stamps or money from the Post
    Office (unless you are a high up postmaster or the main mistress) you are immediately fired. Why do we reward the executives and fire, or jail an average worker?

    • These people know the secrets of others who may have their hands in the cookie Jar, and I’m sure those who do have their hands in it are very high up in the ranks. I have said this before, why is it that the law makers are the first to brake the laws, I remember a man in NJ who stole some bread and baloney, and was sent to jail for a year, he stole it to feed his kids. These people have it all and want more, even if they have to steal it or commit fraud!!

  8. Presidents Nixon and Clinton weren’t above the law who are those aholes to be people unintentionally made them gods because of the wars that this country has been fighting at some point that ends they executed a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran here in GA last he was an infantry officer had PTSD but went off his meds and killed a police officer.that hurt me a lot so who the hell told these BSA VA directors they were walking on water and deserved getting away with ANYTHING!

  9. Dear Mr.Krause:

    When “lawmakers” shield the criminal what does that tell you, anybody answer? I know how I would answer without thinking a second time, I would say perpetrator and “lawmaker” are in the same league.

    Frank P. Calderon

  10. 01/11/2016

    Dear Benjamin Krause

    Kimberly Graves, director of VBA’s St. Paul regional office,

    Republican Missouri Rep. Sam Graves

    What part do you not get?

    Sincerely,

    Don Karg

    Privacy violations on the rise at Minnesota’s VA facilities
    Vets find records released or sent to the wrong place.
    By Mark Brunswick Star Tribune

    Spelling your name wrong

    • And that is the “WHY” our Congressional Lawmakers aren’t doing anything to curb the corruption, waste and abuse THAT IS THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION!

  11. Keep on with the battle to bring justice for the veterans who have sacrificed so much for this country’s plutocratic elite. As is evident in how the corruption in the VA is resolved.

    I want to thank everyone for bringing your “A” game to this cause as it has affirmed my experience as well and given me great relief knowing that I’m not the only one who knows the VA is a corrupt agency, for that matter, all government agencies. For example, take a look at how Congress is managed with it’s self-approved pay raises and political filibusters.

    However the VA’s original purpose was good and for the benefits of the veteran! Let’s recognize this and work to eliminate the elements, people and policies, that are ruining it for the veterans not the agency itself. It’s the people who need to be held accountable for their actions. Not only are they self-serving but they are exploiting the VA system and destroying it for the benefit of all veterans.

    Godspeed

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