Watchdog office to probe Mar-a-Lago members' influence at VA

• Nov 26, 2018

The Government Accountability Office will investigate whether members of Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Florida, improperly influenced the Department of Veterans Affairs, including over a $10 billion contract to modernize veterans’ health records, according to a letter from the watchdog office released by Democratic lawmakers Monday.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) had requested an investigation in August following reports that Trump confidant Ike Perlmutter, chairman of Marvel Entertainment, and Bruce Moskowitz, a West Palm Beach doctor, used their access to the club — and the president — to delay and shape a plan to overhaul digital health records at the VA.

"GAO accepts your request as work that is within the scope of its authority," the watchdog office said in its response, which was dated Nov. 19. "At the current time we anticipate that staff with the required skills will be available to initiate an engagement in about five months."

Warren and Schatz asked the VA inspector general and the GAO to probe a trio of Mar-a-Lago-linked men, which also includes lawyer Marc Sherman. The GAO said it would coordinate with the inspector general's office.

"Membership in President Trump's private club, alone, is not sufficient to have an informed opinion on the best way to deliver care and benefits to our nation's veterans," Warren and Schatz wrote when they requested the investigation in August. "And membership in President Trump's private club should not give any individual the right to exert influence on decisions made by the VA that impact the over nine million veterans under its care."

Moskowitz, an internist, objected to the VA contract with Cerner Corp. because he didn’t like the company’s software in use at two Florida hospitals, POLITICO reported in April. He and Perlmutter began attending conference calls with the contracting team in charge of implementing the project, and Moskowitz’s concerns effectively delayed the agreement for months.

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You can read the full article by Lorraine Woellert here

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Lorraine Woellert

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