WASHINGTON -- Arizona Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick has asked the Veterans Administration to not transfer Kim Graves, the embattled former chief of the St. Paul Regional Benefits Office, to Phoenix because the facility there has enough problems.

In a letter to VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson, Kirkpatrick said she was appalled by the findings of the VA Office of the Inspector General regarding Graves' behavior.

The IG found Graves was behind a move she put together for herself from the East Coast to Minnesota. She received $130,000 in government-paid moving expenses and retained her $173,000 salary in Minnesota for much less work.

The VA attempted to demote Graves to a lesser job in Phoenix and give her a paycut. Graves appealed that decision, and VA officials acknowledged botching the paperwork in that demotion last week. For now, the move is on hold until VA can get the paperwork straight.

Kirkpatrick is pushing back on the demotion.

"I am adamantly opposed to any future decision to transfer Ms. Graves to Phoenix," she wrote to Gibson. "The Phoenix VA Health Care System was at the epicenter of the VA scandal and has since demonstrated ongoing systemic problems. After two years of hearings addressing these problems, the decision to transfer Ms. Graves to Phoenix was irresponsible and frankly offensive."

The Phoenix VA facility has been embroiled in a two-year management scandal involving chronicle long wait times for veterans.

Earlier this week, Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, both Republicans, alleged VA Secretary Robert McDonald has not used his proper authority to fire administrators found to be incompetent.

The VA has not yet responded to Kirkpatrick's letter.

Allison Sherry • 202-383-6120

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