WASHINGTON – Deputy Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson said he wants to discipline embattled St. Paul VA chief Kim Graves after allegations she abused her position, despite a judge’s ruling that allowed her to remain in her Minnesota job.
Graves, who runs the St. Paul Veterans Benefits Office, received $130,000 in publicly paid moving expenses and retained her $173,000 salary after transferring herself from the East Coast to Minnesota to a job with fewer responsibilities.
“I do intend to take some disciplinary action,” Gibson said in a conference call with journalists. “There has been no punishment. I do not believe that’s the intent of Congress.”
The VA’s inspector general found that Graves and another VA official manipulated the agency’s hiring system for their own gain. The inspector general found Graves’ relocation expenses to be excessive.
VA officials attempted to demote Graves late last year and give her a pay cut after discovering the wrongdoing. She appealed the demotion to the Merit Systems Protection Board, a judiciary body that oversees federal employees.
Last week, a Merit Systems judge found the VA did not treat Graves consistently with other VA officials embroiled in the scandal. The judge halted her demotion and transfer to a VA facility in Arizona.
Gibson said Graves and another VA chief in Philadelphia accused of similar misconduct are still in their posts, and he doesn’t think this is fair. He plans to investigate the conduct of other executives.
But Gibson said he likely won’t transfer Graves out of Minnesota because, “we’d have to pay for their relocation expenses, so someone help me understand how that is the right decision for taxpayers.”