Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley is seeking information about whistleblowers alleging significant ethic lapses and potential leaks of market-sensitive data at the Veterans Benefits Administration, a division of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The whistleblowers allege the department "appears to be sweeping under the rug a history of conflicts and ethical issues among senior officials at the Veterans Benefits Administration."
They also say the benefits administration senior official Charmain Bogue failed to disclose information about her husband, who owns a consulting firm with contracts with Veterans Education Success and directly does business with the VBA.
This incident caused VA ethics lawyers to ask Bogue to recuse herself in 20s20 from engaging in any activity with her husband's clients or employers, according to a letter Grassley sent Friday to Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs Dennis McDonough.
The whistleblowers also allege that there may have been a potential leak of market-sensitive information, which potentially affected the stock market.
Grassley's office discovered via a Freedom of Information Act that in January 2020, VES wrote a letter to Bogue asking the VBA to put "severe penalties" against for-profit schools – excluding them from accepting students GI Bill benefits.
The VA planned to grant VES's request and sent out an internal memo saying employees were to keep quiet about the move publicly since any leaks could cause "general panic and insider trading."
However, Grassley say he's concerned that "someone appears to have released market-sensitive information about the impending announcement during the trading day and may have done so in the months between the January letter and the March 9 announcement as well."
"At least one recipient of the early head-up was Mr. Bogues employer, VES," Grassley said in a letter to acting Chairwoman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Allison Herren Lee.
Grassley, of Iowa, is seeking information from the SEC to see if they were aware of any such actions or if any actions are needed to ensure market safety.