VA officials who defrauded taxpayers will get to keep the money – and their jobs

( It’s no wonder a huge majority of Americans no longer trust their government to do the right thing.

As reported by the Washington Examiner, two Department of Veterans Affairs officials who were accused of defrauding the agency of $400,000 will be allowed to keep the taxpayer money after receiving demotions and unspecified pay cuts as punishment. Lesser mortals – you know, like non-federal government employees, would most likely be facing a federal judge and jail time for stealing taxpayer money.

Diane Rubens and Kimberly Graves both stood accused of manipulating a VA program designed to relocate agency employees who are transferred long distances to take positions within the agency. Rubens allegedly netted more than $274,000 while Graves more than $129,000, the VA’s inspector general concluded.

The chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Re. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., said he was “flabbergasted” by the VA’s decision to let both women keep money they illicitly siphoned off.

“This is not a situation in which VA can have it both ways,” Miller said in a letter to VA Secretary Bob McDonald. “In demoting Rubens and Graves, VA has already admitted what they did was wrong. Consequently, the department’s failure to recoup the money Rubens’ and Graves’ unethical behavior enabled them to benefit from defies all logic.”

The lawmaker and VA panel chairman also noted that the agency “aggressively” pursues veterans and their families if they accidentally receive overpayment of benefits, while allowing agency executives to keep what they’ve improperly obtained.

As is generally the case with high-ranking career federal employees called to appear before Congress to explain their actions, both Rubens and Graves involved their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and refused to testify when the House VA committee tried to question them about their abuse of the agency relocation program.

Alison Hickey, the VA’s former top benefits official, stepped down from her position in October amid controversy over the inspector general’s findings, the Washington Examiner reported. She also declined to testify about the relocation scheme.

According to the agency’s inspector general, the two VA executives used relocation funds to get around prohibitions on granting raises to employees.

For many government agencies and their employees, the federal budget is being used as a slush fund that never ends, thanks to massive over-spending that rarely receives much more than a passing reference in the mainstream media and in the halls of Congress.

Yet the money spigot will eventually run dry, and the gargantuan debt that successive generations of excessive-spending congresses will come crashing down on the heads of Americans in the form of a collapsed economy that most will never see coming.

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