ABC Spotlights Veterans Admin. Wasting Millions On Art During Scandal

ABC's World News Tonight on Friday revisited the health care scandal at the Veterans Administration and pointed out the recent revelation that the federal agency spent millions of taxpayer money on abstract art. Correspondent Mary Bruce spotlighted how the V.A. defending the spending by claiming that the art pieces foster "a healing environment." [video below]

Anchor Tom Llamas introduced Bruce's segment by noting a "new report raising questions about spending at the Veterans Administration." He continued that ABC "confirmed the agency spent millions of dollars on expensive artwork and sculptures at the height of the scandal involving how America's veterans are being served."

The journalist gave some "head-scratching examples," as Llamas put it, of the V.A.'s art spending — including $1.3 million on a rock monument and "nearly $300,000 for this giant Morse code installation on the side of a parking garage." She featured a soundbite from Shaun Rieley of Concerned Veterans For America, who contended that the millions spent on the artwork was "outrageous; but frankly, not that surprising."

Bruce later disclosed the federal agency's explanation for the spending: "The V.A. is responding — telling ABC they are 'developing a national art policy' — saying while they must be 'stewards of taxpayers dollars,' health care 'goes beyond just offering the most advanced medical treatments.'"

The full transcript of correspondent Mary Bruce's report from the July 29, 2016 edition of ABC's World News Tonight:

TOM LLAMAS: Next tonight, a new report raising questions about spending at the Veterans Administration. We checked some government sites, and confirmed the agency spent millions of dollars on expensive artwork and sculptures at the height of the scandal involving how America's veterans are being served.

ABC's Mary Bruce with the head-scratching examples, and the V.A.'s response, about how 'Your Money' is being spent.

[ABC News Graphic: "Your Money: Tax Dollars Spent On Art During VA Scandal"]

MARY BRUCE (voice-over): More than $1 million for this.

REP. JEFF MILLER, (R), FLORIDA (from speech on floor of the House of Representatives): $1.3 million — for a rock.

BRUCE: Nearly $300,000 for this giant Morse code installation on the side of a parking garage. And more than $21,000 on a fake Christmas tree? The V.A. spending millions of your money on artwork and decorations, at the same time veterans were experiencing lengthy delays for treatment — the department admitting it was overwhelmed and understaffed.

Veteran advocates are frustrated.

SHAUN RIELEY, CONCERNED VETERANS FOR AMERICA: I think it's outrageous; but frankly, not that surprising.

BRUCE (on-camera): Not surprising?

RIELEY: Not at this point.

BRUCE (voice-over): And lawmakers are questioning the V.A.'s priorities. Senator Mark Kirk is urging the V.A. secretary to block further spending on art. Tonight, the V.A. is responding — telling ABC they are 'developing a national art policy' — saying while they must be 'stewards of taxpayers dollars,' health care 'goes beyond just offering the most advanced medical treatments.'

BRUCE (live): Now, the V.A. says artwork is an important part of that care, because it creates a healing environment. But tonight, some are asking, why not use artwork from veterans? Tom?

LLAMAS: Mary, thank you.

Congress Budget Government Agencies Military Political Scandals ABC World News Tonight Video Veterans Administration Veterans Affairs Mary Bruce
Matthew Balan's picture


Sponsored Links