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Watchdog report sparked by Grassley finds ethic violation in Department of Veterans Affairs

Probe was prompted by concerns from Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley

Published: April 15, 2022 11:26am

Updated: April 15, 2022 2:14pm

A federal watchdog report, sparked by concerns from Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, has identified a potential conflict of interest and resulting ethic violation within the office at the Department of Veterans Affairs that helps runs the GI Bill program.

An inspector general report released March 24 found Charmain Bogue, as executive director of the Veterans Benefits Administration’s Education Service, worked with her husband's employer, the nonprofit Veterans Education Success, which created the appearance of a conflict of interest because she failed to disclose the relationship. 

The report said Bogue didn't considering whether her recusal in the dealings was required "in light of the potential appearance of a conflict of interest, which is a violation of government ethics rules."

The report also states she refusing to cooperate during the investigation. Bogue resigned amid the investigation. 

The probe was prompted by concerns by Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley in April 2021.

The Department of Veterans Affairs' Office of Inspector General report, which was released late last month, concluded that Bogue created the appearance of a conflict of interest by failing to disclose business with her husband's employer, Veterans Education Success, a nonprofit that assists veterans.

The VA's Education Service office is in charge of parts of the GI BIll, which pays for veterans' education.

Bogue's husband and his company also were uncooperative during the inspector general report, and unlike a federal prosecutor, an IG is unable to compel cooperation. 

Grassley letter last April asked for  information about Bogue’s supervisor and information from tabout whistleblower complaints. 

The request was followed by the group Empower Oversight, founded by Jason Foster, who was chief investigative counsel to Grassley when he was Senate Judiciary Committee chairman.

Foster concluded that the VBA Education Service conflicts of interest were "an open secret in the VA for years. Supervisors knew."

He also said the VA inspector general's office knew, but "the whistleblowers were ignored until Sen. Chuck Grassley started asking questions."

According to the Daily Signal, which first reported the story, a spokesperson for the agency said that because Bogue quit her position during the course of the investigation, the VA did not make any recommendations for further action, and does not see a larger problem than the actions of a single (former) official.

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