The Department of Veterans Affairs demoted two high-ranking officials on Friday amid allegations that they manipulated the agency’s hiring system for their personal gain.
According to FOX News, the VA released a statement that said Diana Rubens and Kimberly Graves have been removed from their positions as senior executives and have been demoted to general workers.
Graves was the director of the St. Paul, Minnesota, regional office while Rubens was the director of the Philadelphia regional office for the Veterans Benefits Administration.
According to the VA’s acting Inspector General, Graves and Rubens made lower-ranking regional managers accept job transfers against their will, and stepped into the vacant positions, allowing them to keep their pay while reducing their responsibilities as well.
Earlier this month, Graves and Rubens refused to testify in front of Congress. They told lawmakers that they were invoking their 5th Amendment rights, which protects them from self-incrimination.
Before forcing their way into the regional jobs, Graves was the director of the VBA’s North Atlantic Region, while Rubens was a deputy undersecretary at the VA’s Washington headquarters.
In their new positions, Graves and Ruben kept their salaries of $173,949 and $181,497 respectively, even though they had fewer responsibilities than they did in their former positions.
In addition to fraudulently taking the new positions, Graves and Rubens also received $400,000 for moving expenses through a relocation program for VA executives.
The VA has since suspended the relocation program.
According to the Inspector General’s report, Graves and Rubens face possible criminal prosecution.
Rep. Jeff Miller, the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said that the VA should have fired Graves and Rubens as soon as they found out what they did. Miller also said, “For those wondering whether VA is committed to real accountability for corrupt employees, VA leaders answered that question with a resounding no.”
When asked about the VA’s failure to fire Graves and Rubens, Dale Barnett, the national commander of the American Legion, said, “It is an insult and a disgrace to all veterans. Any promises that VA officials make about accountability in the future need to be taken with a grain of salt.”
Representatives for the VA did not respond to requests for comments.
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