Cabinet official improperly accepted Wimbledon tickets, probe finds

The secretary of veterans affairs improperly accepted Wimbledon tickets, according to an investigation whose results were released Wednesday.

An investigation into a trip to Europe by Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin found that he improperly accepted Wimbledon tickets among other misuses of funds and time.

The investigation by the inspector general’s office of the Department of Veterans Affairs also found that an official altered an email to get approval for Shulkin’s wife, Dr. Merle Bari, to travel with him. The trip cost taxpayers at least $122,334.

While there were three and a half days of official business in Copenhagen and London, there was “significant personal time for sightseeing and other unofficial activities” on the 11-day trip.

Among the activities: touring Amalienborg Palace for the Changing of the Guard; visiting Christiansborg Palace, Rosenborg Castle and Frederiksborg Castle; taking a boat tour of Copenhagen from Nyhavn Canal; excursions to the Churchill War Rooms, Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace and Westminster Abbey; a Thames River cruise; and visits to St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London (including the Ceremony of the Keys), Tower Bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe, London Eye and Windsor Castle.

The inspector general’s office referred the matter to the Justice Department for potential criminal prosecution, but the Justice Department decided “not to prosecute at this time.”

The Wimbledon tickets came from a U.K. resident, Victoria Gosling, who is head of social impact at Auden as well as the military director for the philanthropic arm of U.K. software company Sage Group SGE, +1.20% and the military councilor for the Lawn Tennis Association.

Shulkin, in a letter to the inspector general’s office, called the report a “direct assault on my spouse, my character, and my unblemished record of service to the Veterans Affairs Administration.” Shulkin said that Gosling doesn’t have business before the VA and that he offered to reimburse the ticket cost on several occasions.

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