WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is pushing for answers after the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) shuts down on issues related to allegations of ethics violations and conflicts of interest at the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA).

“Congress certainly has a sufficient interest in whether government employees potentially monetize non-public information for their own financial benefit or that of their cronies.” Grassley wrote. “It is deeply troubling that VA is the only agency not to respond to my investigation, especially given the seriousness of the allegations.”

After Grassley called for watchdog reviews over alleged ethics violations, the leak of market sensitive information and whistleblower retaliation in April, the VA Inspector General’s office confirmed an administrative investigation on allegations that VBA official Charmain Bogue violated laws and regulations governing conflicts of interest in it. relationships with her husband’s businesses. The Securities and Exchange Commission also responded to Grassley’s previous investigation.
The full text of Grassley’s letter follows. The letter and its attachments can be found HERE.

July 20, 2021

BY ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION

Denis mcdonough

secretary

US Department of Veterans Affairs

Dear Secretary McDonough:

I am writing to you again today to express my disappointment that the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) did not respond on time to my letter of April 2, 2021, which raised several concerns about the ongoing issues. in your department. As you will recall, these issues include, but are not limited to, potential retaliation from whistleblowers, conflicts of interest between high-level employees, and the potential leak of market-sensitive information that may have affected investors in retail and financial markets.[1]
After receiving the same documents that I provided to your office, the VA Inspector General (VA OIG) opened an investigation to determine whether the VA Executive Director of the Veterans Benefits Administrations Education Service, Charmain Bogue, violated the law and regulation on ethical conflicts by failing to oppose her husband’s business dealings.[2]
In addition, VA OIG is investigating whether there was a potential legal opinion at VA that recommended her recusal from doing business with her husband’s businesses. In my letter of April 2, 2021, I requested any legal advice, if any, regarding Ms. Bogue’s involvement in her spouse’s businesses.[3]
Unfortunately, your office did not provide the requested documents or respond to whether Ms. Bogue had engaged in these alleged activities.
The Securities and Exchange Commissions (SEC) also responded to my request. In a July 1, 2021 letter to my office, the SEC said it was carefully reviewing the information provided to its office to ensure there was compliance with both the law and regulations.[4]
As you will recall, my April 2, 2021 letter requested information on what VA is doing to protect sensitive market information from inappropriate disclosure by VA staff. Your office has not yet answered the question of whether your employees adequately comply with applicable laws and regulations. Congress certainly has a sufficient interest in whether government employees potentially monetize non-public information for their own financial benefit or that of their cronies.
It is deeply troubling that VA is the only agency not to respond to my request, especially given the seriousness of the allegations. My staff have tried, on several occasions, to work with your office to find a mutually acceptable solution, including accepting answers to my questions on an ongoing basis, to no avail.[5]

To this end, I request that you respond to my initial request and additional follow-up questions based on information received from other entities, no later than July 30, 2021.

1.
Has VA sought advice from the government’s Ethics Office regarding educating the VA workforce on the importance of protecting potentially market sensitive information? If not, why not?

2.
Does VA have a policy regarding the need for employees to protect potentially market sensitive and non-public information from disclosure? If so, please provide this policy. If not, why not?

I hope VA is not seeking to obstruct a congressional investigation in any way by intentionally not responding to my investigation. Contact my committee staff at (202) 224-5225 if you have any questions. Thank you for your attention to this important subject.

Truly,

30-


[1] See Letter from Charles E. Grassley, Class Member, S. Comm. on the Judiciary, to Mr. Denis McDonough, Sec’y US Dep’t of Veterans Affairs (April 2, 2021), https://www.grassley.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/grassley_to_dept.ofveteransaffairsvbaethicsmarketinfoleaks. pdf.
[2] Attached as part A.
[3] See Letter from Charles E. Grassley, Class Member, S. Comm. on the Judiciary, to Mr. Denis McDonough, Sec’y US Dep’t of Veterans Affairs (April 2, 2021), https://www.grassley.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/grassley_to_dept.ofveteransaffairsvbaethicsmarketinfoleaks. pdf.
[4] Attached as part B.
[5] Email communications filed with the committee.