Trump's 'Mar-a-Lago trio' broke law in plan to monetize veterans' medical records, congressional investigators claim

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Congressional investigators allege three business executives used their connections with former President Donald Trump to influence Department of Veterans Affairs policies, including planning to sell veterans' medical records to turn a profit, according to a Sept. 27 ProPublica report.

Seven things to know:

  1. The so-called "Mar-a-Lago trio" comprised Marvel Entertainment Chair Ike Perlmutter, West Palm Beach, Fla.-based physician Bruce Moskowitz, MD, and lawyer Marc Sherman.

  2. An investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs found the three men allegedly used their ties with Mr. Trump's private golf club to develop programs they benefited from. 

  3. "Our joint investigation found that Ike Perlmutter, Marc Sherman, and Dr. Bruce Moskowitz, bolstered by their connection to President Trump's private Mar-a-Lago club, violated the law and sought to exert improper influence over government officials to further their own personal interests," Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., chair of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, said in a joint statement.

  4. One of those plans allegedly included a profitable initiative to monetize the medical records of VA patients. Terry Fadem, a consultant who ran a private nonprofit for Dr. Moskowitz, said in a June 2017 email released by the oversight committee that, "Patient data is, in my opinion, the most valuable assets the VA has. It can be leveraged into hundreds of millions in revenue" by selling access to the data to companies.

  5. The documents do not disclose if the VA went through with selling access to medical records to companies or what, if anything, came of the plans discussed. They also don't have evidence that the group members were in a position to profit from the dealings, ProPublica reported. A spokesperson for the group told the publication that to their knowledge, Mr. Fadem was not hired and the VA never acted on the licensing idea. "We were asked repeatedly by former Secretary Shulkin and his senior staff, as well as by the President, to assist the VA and that is what we sought to do, period," the spokesperson said in a statement.

  6. The committees claim emails with Ivanka Trump, Mr. Trump's daughter, show that Ms. Trump and her husband and father's former adviser, Jared Kushner, were also aware of the illegal dealings.

  7. A May 2020 report by the Government Accountability Office claimed that the trio made numerous recommendations from 2016-18 on various Department of Veterans Affairs initiatives, including its $16 billion EHR contract with Cerner. GAO analyzed 223 email exchanges between the three men, referred to as "private citizens" and VA. Of the email exchanges, 77 mentioned the Cerner project or interoperability in some capacity. The timeline focused on 2016-18, and the report was conducted between April 2019 to May 2020.

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