It's the fifth open OIG investigation into a member of the Trump administration's travel
The VA’s inspector general is reviewing Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin’s July business trip to London and Denmark, which included meetings with Danish and UK officials as well as a stop at Wimbledon.
It’s now the fifth investigation into a member of the Trump administration’s travel by a department inspector general.
Shulkin joins Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and recently resigned Heath and Human Services Secretary Tom Price under scrutiny for the use of private planes, first class travel, military air or flights for possible personal reasons.
Michael Nacincik, spokesman for the VA inspector general’s office, told CNN he could not specify who requested the investigation, nor whether the inspector general’s office was investigating any other travel by the secretary.
News of Shulkin’s July trip abroad, which included a Thames River cruise, was first reported by The Washington Post last week.
Following the report, the Veterans Affairs department posted the trip itinerary online, which showed that Shulkin traveled with his wife and three members of the department, one of whom also brought a spouse. The US government paid for the travel expenses and a per diem for Shulkin’s wife, Merle Bari, the Post reported.
Last Friday, HHS Secretary Price resigned after coming under fire for his use of chartered planes for business purposes. Price’s departure came as he’s being investigated by the department’s inspector general for using private jets for multiple government business trips, even to fly distances often as short as from Washington to Philadelphia. The total cost for the trips ran into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Interior’s Zinke is also being investigated over his travel.
In a statement he gave before giving his policy speech at the Heritage Foundation Friday, Zinke confirmed that he’s used private jet travel on three occasions and has flown military aircraft at other times as well.
“Using tax dollars wisely and ethically is a greatest responsibility and is at the heart of good government,” he said. “Unfortunately there are some times when Interior has to utilize charter services because we often travel to areas that don’t have a lot of flight options.”
He called the recent criticism about his use of private jets “a little BS.”
CNN’s Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.