For spring cleaning this year, President Trump is looking at his Cabinet. The Associated Press reported Monday that Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is near to being removed. When Trump fired H.R. McMaster as national-security adviser, that torpedoed a plan to dismiss McMaster, Shulkin, and Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development, at once, according to Politico’s Eliana Johnson.
Shulkin and Carson face the same problem: dubious use of taxpayer dollars in their duties as secretaries. They can console themselves knowing that they’re in good company. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have been caught in extravagant expenditures, too. Less heartening is the sixth example, Tom Price, who was unceremoniously forced out as secretary of health and human services in September 2017.
This extravagant spending around public displays of status—call it, with apologies to Thorstein Veblen, conspicuous corruption—has become a trademark of the Trump administration. There are so many cases of huge spending of taxpayer dollars by Cabinet secretaries that it’s easy to lose track of them all—or simply to become desensitized—so here’s a few of the lowlights.
Shulkin is under fire for a trip to Europe during summer of 2017. The government paid not only for Shulkin, but also for his wife, a security detail, and other staffers. Almost half of the trip was devoted to tourism, visiting castles and then the Wimbledon tennis tournament, to which the Shulkins improperly accepted tickets. A scathing inspector general’s report last month described “serious dereliction by VA personnel concerning the Europe trip,” which cost more than $122,000 total. [Continue reading…]
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