Report: Local VA official used position of authority to get new job, moving expenses

Author:
Updated:
Original:

A local Veterans Affairs official is accused of benefiting personally and financially after arranging her own transfer from the East Coast to Minnesota, and claiming thousands of dollars in moving expenses.

Kimberly Graves, the current director of the St. Paul Regional Benefit Office, and another high-level official with the Veterans Benefits Administration are accused of using their position of authority to orchestrate new job openings for themselves, and then volunteering to fill them, a statement from the VA's Office of Inspector General says.

Graves' reassignment resulted in "a significant decrease in job responsibilities", yet she retained her salary of $173,949. Graves also claimed $129,467.56 in expenses associated with her move to Minnesota, the statement says.

Federal regulations do not allow the VA to reduce her annual salary upon reassignment, but the agency is looking into whether to require the women to repay relocation costs and what – if any – administrative action should be taken against them, the statement says.

The Office of the Inspector General has also referred the two cases to a federal prosecutor for possible charges, the Star Tribune reports.

U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., called the accusations "outrageous" in a statement, saying "VA officials manipulating the trust and placing their own personal benefit before the needs of veterans is unacceptable," KSTP reports.

This investigation began in March when members of the House and Senate committees on Veterans' Affairs requested the Office of Inspector General investigate allegations concerning financial benefits and preference given at the VA following an anonymous tip.

The investigation also found that in several cases Veterans Benefits Administration management moved senior executives as a method to justify annual salary increases and paid moving expenses for these employees. The Inspector General's Office is now calling for increased oversight when it comes to relocations and associated expenses.

This is the latest arm of the Department of Veterans Affairs to come under scrutiny in recent months. The Veterans Health Administration has been criticized after dozens of patients died while waiting for treatment at VA hospitals.

Next Up

Andrelton Simmons / Minnesota Twins

Twins sign Andrelton Simmons to one-year deal

The former Angels shortstop is a four-time Gold Glove winner.

covid, vaccine

Minnesotans eligible for COVID shots only need to pre-register once for vaccine lottery

This is good news for people worried that they'd need to sign up every week.

police lights

2 people charged in separate Minneapolis homicides that happened hours apart

A woman is accused of stabbing a man in the chest over $60, while a man is accused of accidentally shooting a victim on the man's birthday.

House for sale

Despite pandemic, Twin Cities housing market set records in 2020

Sales were up 7.7% in 2020 compared to the year before.

Target store inside

Target unveils 'limited-edition' home, lifestyle collection with Levi Strauss

The new collection will be available in some stores and everyone online Feb. 28.

Tim Walz

Walz's $52.4 billion budget increases school spending, raises taxes on wealthy

He says the budget will help level the playing field and ensure all Minnesotans have a fair shot at economic recovery,

Screen Shot 2021-01-26 at 12.55.00 PM

Pictures from Minnesota GOP's Deadwood retreat show no masks, no distancing

The pictures were shared in Chair Jennifer Carnahan's latest email newsletter.

Alexus Norberg

Search for girl, 14, missing from St. Cloud

The teen left her home without her parents' permission.

coronavirus, covid-19

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Tuesday, January 26

The health departments provided new data daily at 11 a.m.

Related

New VA clinic approved for SE Minn.

The Veterans Administration will construct a new community-based outpatient clinic in southeastern Minnesota, according to the Austin Daily Herald. It will provide primary health care services and mental health counseling to area veterans. The tentative opening date is sometime between late 2013 and early 2014.