A trio of wealthy members of President Donald Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago resort are effectively running the Department of Veterans Affairs in secret, according to a news report published Tuesday, based on hundreds of documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The threesome includes Marvel Entertainment Chairman Ike Perlmutter, lawyer Marc Sherman and Bruce Moskowitz, a Palm Beach doctor.
The trio, dubbed “the Mar-a-Lago Crowd,” apparently exert major influence over the VA and have the power to shape Trump’s veterans policies, according to the ProPublica report. They also have used their informal relationship with Trump not only to secure a position they seem completely unqualified to hold, but also in ways that could benefit their own private interests.
According to Newsweek, none of the three Mar-a-Lago members have served in the U.S. military, and none hold government positions. One man, Ike Perlmutter, fought for the Israeli military in the Six-Day War and is the first person Trump consults on veteran’s affairs, according to the Propublica report.
Perlmutter also issues orders to VA, reviews policy, and makes personnel selections. VA officials would travel to Mar-a-Lago to “consult” with Perlmutter and get his approval.
“Everyone has to go down and kiss the ring,” a former administration official said.
In response to the news, Democrats spoke out Wednesday, including Rep. Tim Walz, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
Walz described the situation as an “unprecedented, disturbing, and profoundly unacceptable betrayal of our nation’s veterans.”
“This situation reeks of corruption and cronyism,” Walz said in a statement. “That is why I’m directing my staff to immediately open an investigation into the matter.”
A Democrat tasked with @DeptVetAffairs oversight is seeking unredacted copies of any correspondence concerning three Mar-a-Lago members, who formed an informal council and used their proximity to @POTUS to exert major influence on the VA.
— Stars and Stripes (@starsandstripes) August 8, 2018
Further proof that cronyism is alive and well in the Trumpiverse.
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