GAO to investigate possible Mar-a-Lago influence at VA

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has agreed to investigate  whether the informal council from President Donald Trump's private club in Palm Beach, Fla., had or continues to have influence over decisions at the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department, according to Democratic lawmakers.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, called for an investigation in August after a ProPublica probe showed an informal council at Mar-a-Lago — which includes Marvel Entertainment Chairman Ike Perlmutter, Bruce Moskowitz, MD, and attorney Marc Sherman — spoke with VA staff daily about department policy and personnel decisions.

"There are numerous examples of what appear to be clear abuses of ethics and misuse of government resources for private gain," the senators wrote.

The senators added: "Membership in President Trump's private club, alone, is not sufficient to have an informed opinion on the best way to deliver care and benefits to our nation's veterans. And membership in President Trump's private club should not give any individual the right to exert influence on decisions made by the VA that impact the over 9 million veterans under its care."

On Nov. 19, the GAO sent a letter accepting the senators' request for an investigation. It said it expected to begin the probe in about five months, when a "staff with the required skills will be available."

 

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