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Mar-a-lago attendees’ influence over the Department of Veterans’ Affairs

Three members of President Trump’s Mar-A-Lago golf resort have been accused of influencing policy and personnel decisions at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA), despite never having held a military or government position.

Current Status
House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano sent a letter requesting information from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs by February 22 which they did not meet.
Next Steps
The Committee chair has broadened the inquiry to include another Mar-a-Lago member and extended the document deadline to March 29, 2019.

Key legislators

Rep. Mark Takano [D-CA41]

Rep. Mark Takano, chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, has begun an investigation into the relationship of the so called Mar-A-Lago “three” and the VA.

Summary

Three members of President Trump’s Mar-A-Lago golf resort have been accused of influencing policy and personnel decisions at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA), despite never having held a military or government position. Representative Mark Takano, who chairs the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, issued a press release on February 8, 2019 alongside a letter requesting information from the VA. Takano said that this is the beginning of an investigation into the relationship of the so called Mar-A-Lago “three” and the VA.

Ike Perlmutter, Chairman and CEO of Marvel Entertainment (yes, that Marvel), Bruce Moskowitz, a Palm Beach doctor, and Marc Sherman, an attorney, make up the three Mar-A-Lago members who have apparently been influencing VA policy. The three are long-time associates of President Trump. None of them have ever served the U.S. military or government. Only Moskowitz has any healthcare experience; he’s an internal medicine specialist.

In his letter, Takano cites a federal court case from November 16, 2018 where the VA stated that the three had “asserted influence over the Department.” Additionally, other documents and emails obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests imply the three had significant influence over the VA. Takano lists several ways the three may have personally benefited from their influence over the VA, including organizing “a Department-led medical device registry summit in which Dr. Moskowitz’s family and foundation played a prominent role,” and promoting “Marvel Entertainment at a Veterans Day event at the New York Stock Exchange.”

Possible Consequences

Depending on the contents of the requested documents, the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee could potentially choose to prosecute the Mar-A-Lago three and high ranking members of the VA. In his press release, Takano stated “Government officials and private individuals who seek to use the Department for personal enrichment, or who make poor decisions that waste taxpayer dollars or negatively affect the delivery of veterans’ healthcare and benefits must held to account.”

Updated Mar 5, 2019

Updates

Citing New Evidence Chairman Takano Broadens Mar-a-Lago Investigation

On March 14, Committee Chair Takano broadened his document request to the VA to reference a pitch from a fourth Mar-a-Lago member that the President passed directly to the VA. Chair Takano also noted that the VA has yet to comply fully with his first document request, despite having already extended the deadline once. He extended the deadline again, this time to March 29, 2019. There is no update yet on whether those documents have been produced this time either.