CREW requested records from the Department of Veterans Affairs on conversations between VA Secretary Robert Wilkie and his staff as well as any trips Wilkie might have taken to Congressional district offices. Of particular interest are records that relate to the Improve Well-Being for Veterans Act (IMPROVE Act), given that Wilkie personally lobbied certain members of Congress on behalf of the bill which raises questions around potential procedural and ethical violations.
The request follows 2018 reports that over 35 “official” government events attended by Trump and senior administration officials had been part of a coordinated effort to help Republicans in the upcoming election. These events were paid for by government funds, raising potential violations of the Hatch Act which prohibits nearly every executive branch official from using their position to affect election results. Trips that Wilkie or senior VA officials proposed or took for political purposes like lobbying for the IMPROVE Act could implicate the Hatch Act.
The requested records would shed light on whether officials at the VA within the Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs are in full compliance with the Hatch Act and related statutes. It’s imperative that we have records on whether or not taxpayer money is going towards funding political events, since doing so would violate the law.