Mike Coffman encouraged by reports that Trump might fire embattled VA secretary

DENVER – U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman was encouraged Tuesday at news reports that President Donald Trump is considering firing embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin over his misuse of taxpayer money and reported infighting at the department.

“I really hope that @POTUS @realDonaldTrump finally fires @DeptVetAffairs Secretary @SecShulkin as he will never clean up the incompetence and corruption at the VA,” Coffman tweeted Tuesday afternoon. “As the only Member who has made this call, our VETS deserve better!! #FireShulkin now.”

The Associated Press, citing a source familiar with White House discussions, reported Tuesday that Trump was considering replacing Shulkin with Energy Secretary Rick Perry in order to fix a plagued department whose morale has fallen even lower under Shulkin.

Coffman, a Colorado Republican who is a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, on Feb. 28 wrote to Trump and asked him to fire Shulkin after an inspector general report found Shulkin improperly accepted Wimbledon tickets on a trip to Europe, lied about the trip, and that an aide doctored emails so Shulkin’s wife could travel with him.

Coffman initially called for Shulkin to resign in February after the report was made public.

Coffman, who has consistently hammered the VA over its over-budget and behind-schedule construction of the new VA hospital in Aurora, said Shulkin made Americans trust the department even less because of his actions and said it was time to “clean house” at the time.

“Mr. President, you promised the American people that you would end the culture of corruption and bureaucratic incompetence that for far too long has defined the leadership of the VA,” Coffman wrote to Trump. “Unfortunately, Secretary Shulkin, by his conduct, lacks the moral authority to achieve you goals of a transparent, accountable VA that is dedicated to meeting our nation’s obligations to the men and women who wore the uniform and made tremendous sacrifices in defense of our freedoms.”

The VA inspector general referred the report on Shulkin and his staffers to the Department of Justice, which declined to prosecute the case.

Shulkin said he did nothing wrong and said the investigation had a “thread of bias,” adding that the report was “a direct assault” on his wife, character, and his “unblemished record of service” to the VA, as Shulkin put it.

The VA inspector general referred the report on Shulkin and his staffers to the Department of Justice, which declined to prosecute the case.

The Associated Press additionally reported Tuesday that there will be another inspector general report coming out this summer detailing Shulkin’s alleged use of his security detail for personal errands.

Several other of Trump’s Cabinet-level secretaries and administrators have been scrutinized in recent months over questionable ethics behavior. CNN reported that the White House held private meetings with Shulkin, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and HUD Secretary Ben Carson last month to discuss the “optics” of their uses of taxpayer money.

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