Outside Influence: The Veterans Agency’s Shadowy Leadership

At first, the former officials said, Mr. Shulkin in addition to Mr. Bowman viewed the three men as allies with connections within the business in addition to health care worlds. nevertheless the three men barraged the secretary with criticisms in addition to suggestions, including many which had little basis in fact.

They once called the secretary with complaints about a $0 million contract which did not exist, according to the official who had to hunt for the nonexistent paperwork. Another time, according to documents obtained by ProPublica, they asked the secretary to solve a problem for a friend’s son which was an issue with the military, not veterans affairs.

By late 2017, the relationship with Dr. Shulkin had begun to sour. The Mar-a-Lago crowd had reservations about a $10 billion contract the department was preparing to sign for an electronic health record system. Dr. Moskowitz had used a similar system by the same company, Cerner, in addition to did not like which.

The department assembled panels of experts to address the concerns, nevertheless the three men pushed to kill the deal. Eventually, the secretary, frustrated by their constant demands, decided to move ahead on his own.

“which is actually where his problems started out,” one senior staff member said.

Dr. Shulkin had also split with political appointees over how to oversee privately provided health care. In December, the Florida advisers in addition to the political appointees formed a plan to change leadership. The details were revealed in a memo left on a copy machine in January: Mr. Perlmutter would likely help get the secretary replaced. They would likely also replace the deputy secretary in addition to chief of staff.

Dr. Shulkin tried to fight back, meeting many times with the White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, nevertheless neither the secretary nor Mr. Kelly had authority to fire the appointees, according to one of the former officials.

Dr. Shulkin, who was facing criticism over lavish travel spending, was fired in March, shortly before he planned to finalize the Cerner deal.