Decatur – High dollar art and the million-dollar rock.
Government watchdog Open The Books has documented millions of dollars in spending on art and art consulting by the Veterans Administration. All this while thousands of veterans wait weeks, months or years for medical services.
"These are the types of things that make me as angry as I can be," Congressman Rodney Davis, (R) Illinois, told WAND I-TEAM reporter Doug Wolfe. "It doesn’t pass the smell test."
Open The Books has found the VA has spent nearly $20 million on art related purchases over the past decade. Those purchases happened while the VA claimed it was cash strapped and understaffed.
Some of the purchases border on the bizarre. At the VA facility in Palo Alto, California quotes by Abe Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt are displayed on the side of a parking garage. Most people can’t read those quotes since they are in Morse Code.
At the same facility the VA spent $1.3 million for a large rock sculpture, site preparation and associated costs.
At another center two sculptures were purchased for $670,000 for display at a facility that provides rehabilitation services for the blind. Blind veterans obviously can’t see the expensive pieces.
"We’ve got people at the VA worried about purchasing $600,000 in sculptures for a blind rehab facility? That person needs to be fired," Congressman Davis stated.
U.S. Senator Mark Kirk, (R) Illinois, demanded in a letter to the VA this week that the purchases of art be halted immediately until a Congressionally approved process is formally instated so taxpayers know how their dollars are being spent.