Shulkin VA Driver Merle Bari

Driving Miss Merle: Shulkin Violated Laws, Allowed Wife To Use VA Driver

Former VA secretary David Shulkin violated numerous laws when he let his wife Merle Bari use VA driver for personal business without the secretary being present.

The VA Office of Inspector General just released another report that Shulkin abused his authority and power for the private purposes of his wife while he served as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. IG substantiated allegations that he violated various statutes and ethics rules that prohibit the behavior.

The report concludes, “Secretary Shulkin violated federal statutes and regulations prohibiting the misuse of government property and the acceptance of certain gifts when he allowed his VA employee driver to provide transportation to the Secretary’s wife for nonofficial purposes.” Personal favors and transportation services are included in the definition of “gift” used by the agency.

Shulkin was aware of the gifts and aware of his duty to decline any such gifts that even indirectly benefited him even if they were offered only to his wife.

RELATED: VSOs Silent On Shulkin Ethics Scandal

Merle Bari VA Driver

The IG report details instructions provided to Shulkin by a senior assistant who reported Shulkin “wasn’t given any instruction besides that you can have as much protection as you want and don’t have your wife in the car with the agents without you. You are the protectee, and so . . . you should be in the car.”

RELATED: Shulkin Misled Ethics Staff On European Trip

Shulkin denied he ever asked his driver to drive his wife on personal time without use of government resources – – such would be a personal favor or gift – – but senior staff repeatedly contradicted Shulkin’s assertions to evade accountability.

RELATED: Shulkin Lies About Purge Authority

The VA driver “specifically recalled taking [Merle Bari] to the train station in a government vehicle without Secretary Shulkin being present in the vehicle. The driver added there were instances in which he used his personal care and personal time to provide transportation to the Secretary’s wife.”

RELATED: Marvel Comics CEO Regrets Recommending Shulkin As Secretary

David Shulkin European Vacation

Some of you may recall how Shulkin was ousted from his role as Secretary. He took his wife on a trip on the taxpayers’ dime to Europe and accepted a gift of Wimbledon tickets while abroad. An investigation substantiated allegations, and Shulkin was ultimately fired.

Shulkin was also accused of using his security staff to run personal errands including trips to Home Depot. So, the substantiated illegal acts here are certainly no stretch.

RELATED: Vatican Or Bust – Shulkin Had Second Europe Trip Planned

Cuts To Veterans Benefits

What makes this worse is Shulkin’s recent call on Congress to allow cuts to veterans benefits because of a lack of money to care for veterans after they are injured in service. In a piece published in The Hill, Shulkin lays out the following five-part plan to cut benefits arguing the current system is unsustainable:

  1. Disability ratings should be updated to reflect contemporary workforce needs. The current system places a high priority on physical attributes necessary for manual labor and does not acknowledge present day opportunities for many disabled veterans to hold jobs in an increasingly digital economy.
  2. VA should make better use of its vast data to make more personalized disability compensation determinations. Leveraging what has become commonplace in the private sector, predictive analytic models can allow VA to tailor compensation more accurately. It may also be used to predict which veterans will need more resources later in life due to individual characteristics or known disability profiles. Using these data to provide better initial determinations would allow VA to move away from a flawed and expensive appeals and re-rating process. 
  3. VA should utilize best practices in behavioral economics to incentivize decisions that promote well-being and financial independence. Veterans should be incentivized to access healthcare when needed (e.g. PTS treatment). There should be simpler and more efficient linkages between the disability and the healthcare systems. When appropriate, the disability system should be integrated with programs that provide service dogs, adaptive sports and other programs that help veterans regain functional and financial independence.     
  4. VA should facilitate savings plans in the form of an individualized retirement account to reduce financial uncertainty for veterans unable to participate in the workforce. With defaults that favor saving, VA can make it easier for veterans to plan for the long-term financial implications of returning from service with significant disability.   
  5. The benefits program should offer a lump sum payment option. Lump sum payments can provide veterans with the resources needed to buy a house, start a business, or make other decisions that require capital resources up front. Lump sum payments are also advantageous to taxpayers because they can reduce future liabilities and create greater financial certainty over long lifetimes.  

Unsustainable? What about all the wasted spending on failed IT projected by VA?

In 2017, I reported on a secret meeting with senior leadership of the Big Six VSOs and Shulkin where the parties agreed to stand down when VA moved to cut benefits.

Did you notice any VSOs come out swinging against the op-ed Shulkin published?

DAV has yet to address it on its own website‘s blog. VFW wrote about ending the federal shutdown but not Shulkin’s call for new cuts. The Legion wrote about a number of USAA life tip articles on their main blog.

RELATED: Disabled Elderly Veterans Thrown Under Bus, DAV, Legion Silent On Cut Proposal, AMVETS Speaks Out

That is not to say someone within the organization will not write about it, but just that the main VSOs are not addressing Shulkin’s recommendation for cuts just like they did not push back against previous calls for cuts to elderly TDIU benefits back in May 2017. They also supported Shulkin after it was known that he violated pretty obvious ethics rules.

Should We Cut David Shulkin Out?

Shulkin is basically telling America that it cannot afford to cover the costs of war under the current system if one assumes the vast majority of veterans receiving benefits deserve those benefits.

Given his penchant for fancy gifts, taxpayer-funded vacations for his wife, and apparently a taxpayer-funded driver service, does Shulkin have any credibility left to demand cuts to our benefits?

It may be time for Shulkin to just fade away like most other previous VA secretaries from public life. Maybe he should just retire, or take up tennis lessons?

Let’s hope next time Shulkin tries to

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  1. On a positive note. I had the need to visit the Orlando, FL VA hospital and that should be the standard for all of them. Came of the street, had an Xray, EKG and saw a doctor all inside of 1 1/2 hours. Even though I was outside of the VA system from Wyoming, MI, they treated me first class.

  2. Jack Moxon: A Disabled Veteran, Purple Heart Recipient. Secretary Wilkie (VA) has balanced the politics of the WH, VSO’s, and our Veterans he represents, pretty well, I think. Would you like to work for the White House at this time? I have seen some changes in the (VA) system since the previous POS was our Secretary of Veteran Affairs. Think about the layers of (BS) Secretary Wilkie wakes up to.

  3. We most likely could hire Cox to beat him up. Probably make Wilkie happy. I’m agreeing with everyone’s post today. Dan covered things well. SO, who’s job is it to stop it? I’m betting no-one’s job, ‘ Cause Everyone is doing it.

  4. I am sick and tired of this like the rest of us. We have a piece of shit president that has the mentality of a retarded omeba. Does not know how to spell his name because he had someone else to spell it for him. Do you think I would sacrifice my life to keep this SOB alive? NOT ON MY WATCH! Yeah I know , off topic. Now they act like 7 year olds shutting down the govt to get what they want laying on the floor kicking their feet. Get ready guys, the shit is starting to hit the fan. Stock up. They know they have no power to take control. Check the numbers. This govt doesn’t have the resources we do. It doesn’t matter how many train loads of tanks and vehickles they have. The upcoming situation will be stopped by those are not afraid to give thier all to survive. I’m done.

  5. Double Standards, this man knew better but like alot of top elite dumbasses he again was caught breaking the very ethic rules and reythat if anyone else had broken would be cause to be fired or severely reprimanded but in his cause he got away with along with his better half, I wonder if those rules would apply to me or anyone else

  6. With all the issues we presently have, why are we revisiting a former Secretary? He is gone, kaput! he stepped on his crank numerous times. Let him rest.
    Listened to the webnare yesterday. Sounds like smooth sailing for all us Veterans, when it comes to the VA. Oh, wait, the VA. is like an iceberg, more hidden then exposed.
    We’ll have to wait and see how the “trickle-down theory” works. Whatever happens in the castle, the peons could give a shit. No one from the Headshed will encroach on their empire. So, I expect the usual, the right-hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. Let’s do this the “good ole” American way. Throw money at it.

  7. I know a VA employee who got suspended for 20 days without pay for a similar situation but definitely not an intentional infraction of the rules.

    Said employee is a 20 year retired marine and a low level tradesman. He had authorization to use a govt vehicle to go out of town for training. He innocently took a relative with him on the trip. There was no additional expense to the government. There was a huge liability though and he totally admitted his fault and owned the consequences.

    Ironically, a few months later, a VA attorney was verified using a vehicle for personal use via GPS. I doubt he was disciplined at all. In fact, he was the attorney who reviewed the 20 day suspension of the other employee for the same type of infraction.

    The hypocrisy is sickening at times.

  8. Opening and closing: Errr,eerrr,eerrrr,eewrrr, eeerrr,eeerrt!

    Baby shark do do do do do do!

  9. So, since us Veterans are not rich! Everyone thinks it’s a joke to take advantage of us!

    Perhaps, we should start our own Lobbying firm! Called E-Tool Ops! Ask somebody! We can just send them our three foot cutical pushers! In a box, as a present of course! Coming from a local tree nearest you! #TheTreeecher!??

  10. Seems to be the norm in Washington DC. How many reprobates have we heard about, who’ve broken numerous laws and not one damn criminal charge has been brought against them?! All that occurs is, they are fired, quit, retire (with full benefits). Yet, their “mouths” still stick around and screw the American People!
    Why Shithead Shulkin isn’t in prison is a wonder!

  11. Veterans majoriry just talk among themselves especially Concerned Veterans for America Foundation.

  12. No different then specific ranks having reserved parking places at military BX/PX and their wives using them. RHIP and there is no way we are going to change this. I mean good GOD are you trying to tell me that the IG does not do the same thing? Or Congress? Or the DOD? or the Chiefs of Staff? YES its wrong but unless you are going to go after ALL in DC that do this, or on military bases; then whats all the fuss about as going after one person is NOT going to change this kind of mindset.

  13. “The consequences of an act affect the probability of it’s occurring again”. Big spender of other peoples money, Shulkin. Another prime example of unaccountability to veterans in the system as a whole. And where there is unaccountability there is demoralization, the VA is demoralized

  14. Shithead Shulkin deserves a bullet in his head. Under his stellar ‘leadership’, the VA went from being just another bureaucratic nightmare to being actively adversarial towards disabled combat veterans. And all the while – – – he was disregarding established ethics, while living high off the hog on money that should be going to veterans.

    Time to massively reform the VA in short order. Here is a 10-point plan to get that done:

    1. IMMEDIATELY recognize the problems inherent in the VA are SYSTEM-WIDE, not just limited to a few locations.

    2. Fire all the Lazy No Good Workers. Fire EVERY single AFGE/SES Employee.

    3. Sell off all the VA facilities. Alternatively, they may be converted into military barracks-style housing for homeless veterans. These will be run with military-style rules to promote good order and discipline.

    4. Issue all veterans a card that allows them to choose their own doctors within their community that they can TRUST.

    5. The United States Government will PAY those doctors promptly (Within 45 days) for the care they provide veterans.

    6. ELIMINATE the “Federal Protection” Umbrella for incompetent QUACKS that the VA sends to other states to practice other than their own. Going to practice in XX state? You need to be LICENSED in XX state.

    7. Any claim a veteran submits to the VBA that requires more than 90 days to adjudicate, is automatically found to be in favor of the veteran. Should a veteran file a false claim to scam the system, the VA will have to prove in civil court that the claim was falsely submitted. For filing a false claim, the veteran will be subject to ALL of the following:

    (A). The claim shall be denied. If the veteran has received any form of benefits because of the false claim they will be required to fully repay the benefits at cost.

    (B). The veteran will be banned from all VA facilities for the remainder of their life.

    (C). The veteran will lose any benefits they originally have or had, and will not be allowed to file for further benefits.

    8. All veterans will be allowed to seek/retain the services of a Veterans Rights Attorney from their first initial contact with the VA. This will help to protect the legal rights of veterans against corrupt and incompetent VA employees.

    9. No AFGE, nor any other Labor Union business will be allowed to take place in any Federal Workplace. Conducting Union Business during working hours will be STRICTLY PROHIBITED and will be STRICTLY ENFORCED. Should any government employee be found violating this provision, it will result in IMMEDIATE LIFETIME DISMISSAL FROM ANY/ALL STATE AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENTAL EMPLOYMENT.

    10. Attorneys for appeal will be retained at the former employee’s PERSONAL expense. U. S. Taxpayer’s will not be subject to payment of legal bills for incompetent or dishonest personnel with regards to Governmental Employment.

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