Judge reverses demotion of disgraced VA executive. No… really.

posted at 8:01 am on January 29, 2016 by Jazz Shaw

By this point I’m sure you’re all familiar with the case of Kimberly Graves and Diana Rubens, the two VA senior officials who were found to have abused their positions for personal gain in plum job assignments and relocation fees. Despite the damning evidence which was revealed, they wound up being demoted rather than cut loose. (Because, as we were assured by the VA, you can’t fire your way to excellence.) We were also told that demotion was all that we should expect because the Justice Department concluded that they would not prosecute the pair for their actions. But hey… at least they were demoted and had their pay reduced, so in an agency where it’s virtually impossible to fire anyone that’s still better than nothing right?

What were we thinking? Of course that wasn’t going to stick.

The Merit Systems Protection Board has overturned the Veterans Affairs Department’s decision to demote Kimberly Graves, a former senior executive accused of using her position for personal gain.

The reversal means that Graves, the former director of the Veterans Benefits Administration’s St. Paul, Minn., regional office, will be reinstated to the Senior Executive Service. An MSPB administrative judge issued the oral decision on Wednesday after a hearing in Chicago; the court transcript of the ruling should be available on MSPB’s website by Friday…

It’s not yet clear what the MSPB judge’s rationale was for reversing the department’s decision.

About now, some of you may be wondering what the heck the Merit Systems Protection Board is.

The Merit Systems Protection Board is an independent, quasi-judicial agency in the Executive branch that serves as the guardian of Federal merit systems…

The Board assumed the employee appeals function of the Civil Service Commission and was given new responsibilities to perform merit systems studies and to review the significant actions of OPM. The CSRA also created the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) which investigates allegations of prohibited personnel practices, prosecutes violators of civil service rules and regulations, and enforces the Hatch Act. Although originally established as an office of the Board, the OSC now functions independently as a prosecutor of cases before the Board.

Clearly there’s nothing wrong with an appeals board being established to provide a review of personnel actions. There are, no doubt, cases of wrongful termination from time to time and potential wrongdoing by government supervisors should be investigated. But what mystery did they solve in this case? Not only did the department make the shocking decision to demote these two women, but the IG had turned over a case indicating that they should be prosecuted for their actions. But now Ms. Graves has had her old pay scale restored and they may do the same for Rubens on Monday.

This is the federal government as it stands today and we seem to have run out of options. Even when abuse is identified, investigated and acted upon, nothing can be done without the willingness of the administration to police themselves. Findings of wrongdoing can be simply ignored if the Justice Department refuses to prosecute anyone, and internal quasi-judicial agencies can reverse any departmental punishment which does manage to be meted out.

Anyone have any other suggestions as to what to do? Because honestly, I’m tapped out.

VeteransAffairs


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Comment pages: 1 2

Send in the Marines.

It’s the only remaining option.

Sackett on January 29, 2016 at 9:04 PM

I will vote for any man, woman, child or beast who will take a blood oath that as president they will build at least two new federal prisons and instruct the Attorney General (after firing the entire dept. and hiring all new personnel) to fill them with democrats from this administration.
He must then order every dept., bureau, agency, and office of the executive branch that their first, second and last job is to eradicate the democratic party from the face of the earth.
If anyone objects to this gross misuse of public office, look them square in the eye and say;
WE WON.

thelastminstrel on January 29, 2016 at 8:25 AM

When they are done with that, they can start eradicating the GOP, because the union and VA problems have existed under every administration since Kennedy opened the wormhole.

AesopFan on January 29, 2016 at 11:19 PM

The options are out there Jazz, the GOPe CHOOSES not to use them…pure and simple

winston on January 29, 2016 at 8:26 AM

Indeed.
Seems like we have heard that tune before.
However, the union agreements and the labor regulations have legally tied reformers’ hands; those have to be dispensed with first.
It’s the only reason I ever supported Scott Walker, and I wish some clone would take an ax to the problems in DC the way he did in his state.

AesopFan on January 29, 2016 at 11:21 PM

When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion – when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing – when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors – when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you – when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – you may know that your society is doomed.

-Ayn Rand

tommyboy on January 29, 2016 at 9:53 AM

Never gets old.

AesopFan on January 29, 2016 at 11:21 PM

The Vietnam War ended after enough people got mad enough to protest in the streets. Where are the vets demanding justice? Until then, we pound sand.

HiJack on January 29, 2016 at 11:12 AM

It was and remains a lot more complex than that; and in thinking back, I recall that in scratching the typical “protesters” I encountered in the universities and from many military draftees with whom I had to work, I quickly came to see that their presumptive high-ground morality in protesting was actually due to the beginnings of the delusional, ethically barren “total comfort, no sacrifice, my safety first” cancer we see running everything nowadays.

RL on January 29, 2016 at 11:29 AM

Good points.
I would add that, even when Conservatives do take to the streets in protest (TEA Party, March for Life, even just campaign rallies), the media refuse to print the real numbers or show the pictures. So the rallies get no social or political traction.
And of course conservative protestors wouldn’t get the positive press for trashing cities (OWS) or rioting (BLM) that the left does.
Assuming they would do any of those things in the first place.

AesopFan on January 29, 2016 at 11:25 PM

In the land of no consequences, why not be a crook?

Wander on January 29, 2016 at 8:06 AM

How did I miss THAT opportunity?
Oh, yes…. honesty.

ibid on January 29, 2016 at 11:31 AM

What I said above.

There are 4 solutions available.

Soap box, jury box, ballot box and cartridge box.

Pick one.

irongrampa on January 29, 2016 at 11:31 AM

Let’s use the first three more productively, and maybe we won’t get to the final one.
But the media has made the first difficult; the courts have made the second futile; and the Congress has made the third a joke.
Maybe we are at #4 now.

AesopFan on January 29, 2016 at 11:27 PM

There is no way to ‘fix’ the VA. It’s a government monopoly. Hello! why would you even try to sustain it.

Quinn B on January 29, 2016 at 11:41 AM

Indeed.
Just like there is no “fixing” DC or the Government Beast by tinkering around the edges to make it work better (Kasich, Bush, et al), or by using it as your own bulldog (Trump).

The rot has to be cut out and the gangrenous limbs amputated.

AesopFan on January 29, 2016 at 11:29 PM

Congress passed legislation that allowed the administration to fire up to 400 senior managers at the VA in the wake of the appointment scandal. To date they’ve exercised that authority to fire… 3.

During the debate last night, Carly brought that up and said that one of her first actions as President would be… to fire 400 VA managers.

Dexter_Alarius on January 29, 2016 at 12:47 PM

What I said above about the GOP.
Sounds like a response to the

lastminstrel on January 29, 2016 at 8:25 AM

AesopFan on January 29, 2016 at 11:30 PM

The steady drip, drip, drip of news items like this is discouraging to say the least.

But, as with everything, things change little by little, then all at once.

It may not be in our lifetimes, but if the point is reached where there is no responsibility for performing a job, and fewer and fewer are actually doing work that needs to be done, the bottom will fall out.

WHMWrought on January 29, 2016 at 2:02 PM

No one ever knows what the tipping point will be or when it will come.
But the slag heap will tip: that is a surety.

PS nice nom.

AesopFan on January 29, 2016 at 11:31 PM

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