Phoenix Veterans Affairs chief told to repay bonus, senior officials miss Capitol Hill meeting

The Phoenix Veterans Affairs chief has been told by VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to repay her bonus, as it was there that the scandal that has engulfed the department really blew wide open. Meanwhile, three VA officials who were supposed to testify to Congress today missed the meeting.

Shinseki said Wednesday that Phoenix system director Sharon Helman will have to repay her $9,345 bonus after he decided that the scandal was “due to an administrative error,” reports AZ Central.

The scandal drew national attention after it was reported that veterans died at the Carl T. Hayden Medical Center and that patients have had to deal with extended wait times to receive health care. That launched a country-wide review of the VA system, as similar issues of fabricated appointment logs and delayed wait times circulated in several other states.

After weeks of waiting, President Barack Obama finally made a statement on the issue Wednesday, stating that anyone responsible for this will be held accountable. However, he did not call for Shinseki to resign, as Shinseki investigates the scandal with White House deputy chief of staff Rob Nabors.

Meanwhile, CNN reports that the House Veterans Affairs Committee was going to hold a meeting today, but were told that the three VA senior officials who were supposed to testify weren’t going to show.

Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) told CNN that he was told that “we didn't give them enough time to be able to get there,” an excuse he called “disingenuous.” The committee will still discuss how to continue their own investigation.

The House has also passed a bill that is supposed to help Shinseki hold officials accountable at the VA, but it will still have to pass the Senate. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) already introduced the bill there.

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