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Monday, December 10, 2018

Mar-A-Lago Cronies Influenced VA Budgets And Contracts

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica.

Newly released emails about the three Trump associates who secretly steered the Department of Veterans Affairs show how deeply the trio was involved in some of the agency’s most consequential matters, most notably a multibillion-dollar effort to overhaul electronic health records for millions of veterans.

Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter, West Palm Beach physician Bruce Moskowitz and lawyer Marc Sherman — part of the president’s circle at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida — reviewed a confidential draft of a $10 billion government contract for the electronic-records project, even though they lack any relevant expertise.

In preparing the contract, the agency consulted more than 40 outside experts, such as hospital executives, according to the records, which were released under the Freedom of Information Act.



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Trump Defends Mar-A-Lago Trio Ruling VA

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica.

 

The Trump administration is defending the legality of having three Trump associates help steer the Department of Veterans Affairs from the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort, asserting that a Watergate-era sunshine law on advisory committees shouldn’t apply.

In a court filing last week, the government lawyers argued in part that the trio didn’t fit the law’s definition of an advisory committee because rather than being under the agency’s control, the three men reportedly wielded influence over the agency.

“Far from alleging that the department managed or controlled the three individuals, the complaint asserts quite the opposite: that the three individuals asserted influence over the department,” Justice Department lawyers said in the filing, which was submitted on Friday.



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Trump Plans To Spend $32B On VA Privatization

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica.

 

Last June, President Donald Trump signed a landmark law on veterans’ health care after months of tense negotiations. At the ceremony in the Rose Garden, Trump said the bill would deliver on his campaign promise to let veterans see private doctors instead of using the Department of Veterans Affairs’ government-run health service: “I’m going to sign legislation that will make veterans’ choice permanent,” he said.

Standing behind him, the leaders of major veterans groups looked around uncomfortably. What Trump called “choice” these veterans groups called “privatization,” and they’d been warning for years that it would cost taxpayers more money and deliver worse care for veterans.



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