Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is pushing for information and transparency after whistleblowers allege significant ethics lapses and potential leaks of market-sensitive information at the Veterans Benefits Administration, a division of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Grassley is seeking information regarding Charmain Bogue’s failure to disclose her husband’s income and employment at a firm that directly did business with the VBA. He is also seeking a commitment from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to comply with pending and future FOIA requests on this matter in a timely manner.
The whistleblower allegations revolve around an alleged VA Office of General Counsel memorandum that determined Charmain Bogue should recuse herself from any and all VA matters involving her husband’s firms. The whistleblowers further allege that, after internal warnings about the need to protect market-sensitive information, that information may have been leaked, which was then publicly traded on, potentially affecting stock prices and retail investors.
In seeking a broad set of information and transparency, Grassley wrote to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough, Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General Michael Missal, and Acting Chairwoman Allison Lee of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
In his letter to the VA, Grassley requests records relating to ethics determinations related to current and former senior officials at the VA, the steps the VA takes to protect retail investors by safeguarding market-sensitive information, any internal investigations of such information leaking, and the VA’s attempts to block information released through FOIA requests relating to these matters.
Grassley is seeking a review of these potential ethics violations and disclosures failures from the inspector general, and asking whether the SEC is aware of these allegations and what steps the commissioner takes to distribute guidance to federal agencies on the importance and necessity of protecting sensitive information that could affect financial markets.
Full text of Grassley’s letters follow: