The Department of Veterans Affairs officials are refusing to hand over documentation that could detail the undue influence of a troika of private businessmen over the department’s dealings to Congress, Military Times reports, leading the ranking Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Committee to rebuke the move as “an attempt to stonewall not only a member of Congress but the American public.”
- In August, a bombshell report from ProPublica detailed the influence of three acquaintances of President Donald Trump in shaping VA policy.
- Known as the “the Mar-a-Lago Crowd,” the troika consists of Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter, Palm Beach physician Bruce Moskowitz, and lawyer Marc Sherman.
- The ProPublica investigation suggested that emails from the Mar-A-Lago Crowd were effectively treated as de facto policy directives.
- In the aftermath, HVAC ranking member Tim Walz (D-Minn.) demanded the VA turn over any records of contact between the three businessmen and the and VA officials, followed by a lawsuit by left-leaning veterans group VoteVets.
- In a September hearing, newly-minted VA Secretary Robert Wilkie assured lawmakers in a September hearing that none of the three businessmen had any untoward contact with VA officials but declined to release those communications, citing “ongoing litigation alleging violations of the Federal Advisory Committee Act” that make any documents “not appropriate for release at this time.”
- For his part, Military Times reports that Walz is demanding that the VA release those communications by the end of the month. “We have received nothing from VA except excuses,” he said in a statement. The reports of corruption and cronyism are serious and we cannot allow VA to sweep this under the rug. This issue will remain a top concern of the committee until all our questions have been answered.”