Phoenix VA Director Finally Lands in the Wrong Place

According to the Weekly Standard: “Director of Phoenix VA Hospital Where Vets Died from Delays Received $8,500 Bonus in April (Update: Bonus Rescinded)

The director of the Phoenix VA hospital where 40 veterans died while waiting for care received an $8,500 bonus last month, according to Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. 

Sharon Helman, the director of the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System, “got an $8,500 bonus last month while there was an open [inspector general] investigation into Phoenix,” Chairman Miller told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview Wednesday.

It had been previously reported that Helman received more than $9,000 in bonus pay in 2013 on top of her annual salary of $169,900. The VA office of inspector general began investigating the Phoenix VA for wrongdoing in December 2013, months before Helman received the additional $8,500 bonus.


Chairman Jeff Miller said that VA officials told him that the Helman’s new bonus was the result of “an administrative error” made by a “low-level person” in the department.

Update: The VA announced this afternoon: “Secretary Shinseki today exercised his authority to rescind Sharon Helman’s fiscal year 2013 performance award immediately.  Previously, Ms. Helman received the performance award due to an administrative error.”

Government is like a perverse game of Monopoly:

“Administrative Error”* in your favor!! Collect $8500! (On top of your $169,900 salary and super-sized benefits package!)

But then…

Ooh, we’re sorry!! You’ve landed on “Presidential Embarrassment!” Your previously rewarded efforts became public; the press got out of line and actually reported that you allowed 40 U.S. veterans to die without treatment. Do not pass Go—forfeit $8500, to help the President and VA Secretary save face.”

*Designation changed May 21 for political reasons, from the standard “You’re still breathing in government service annual bonus.”