Policy & Strategy

VA: $52,000 ‘Patton’ parody video ‘misuse of taxpayer funds’

The Department of Veterans Affairs says that the $52,000
spent on videos parodying the movie “Patton” that played at two conferences
last year should not have been produced and were a “misuse of taxpayer funds.”

The House Veterans Affairs Committee released the two
8-minute videos on YouTube
Wednesday, which were produced by an outside contractor and feature an actor who
parodied the opening scene of “Patton” for the videos, shown at two VA Human
Resources conferences that were held in Orlando last year.

{mosads}The video is the latest wrinkle in the conferences that has
drawn scrutiny from House Veterans Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) and
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), after the VA’s
inspector general launched an investigation into the conferences.

In a statement, the VA said it is complying fully with the
inspector general’s investigation, which has not been released yet, and it has
removed purchasing power authority from any employees who work in the unit
under investigation.

“This parody should never have been produced and this misuse
of taxpayer funds is completely unacceptable,” the VA said. “This event took
place over a year ago and we have already adopted new rules that reflect our
continuing commitment to safeguarding taxpayer dollars.”

The investigation into the VA conferences comes after widespread
outrage earlier this year that resulted from an $850,000 General Services
Administration (GSA) conference in Las Vegas.

Miller says that the two VA conferences were estimated to
have cost between $3 million and $9 million.

In addition to the $52,000 for the “Patton” video at the
VA’s HR conferences, Miller said the VA spent $84,000 for VA-branded promotional items like pens and hand
sanitizers, and that VA employees received improper benefits like alcohol, gift
baskets and concert tickets.

Miller sent a letter Wednesday asking for more information
on the VA conference budgets from Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.

“I have requested all budgets and materials for VA
conferences that have occurred over the past three years to see if these two
conferences are an anomaly or are part of a bigger pattern,” Miller wrote
Shinseki in a letter released by the committee Wednesday.

Watch the videos below:

Tags Eric Shinseki

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