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VA secretary urged to fire chief of staff

| Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, 8:30 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Top Republican lawmakers have called on Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to fire his chief of staff for approving two training conferences that led to $762,000 in questionable spending.

The department accepted the resignation of an assistant secretary in response to a critical inspector general's report released last week. Federal investigators found the conferences were held to fulfill valid training needs, but some expenses were unnecessary or wasteful.

Rep. Jeff Miller and Sen. Richard Burr said in a letter released on Tuesday that accountability begins at the top. They said the department's chief of staff, John Gingrich, bears ultimate responsibility because he approved the conferences.

Veterans Affairs on Tuesday said that any misuse of taxpayer dollars was unacceptable, and that's why Shinseki took action consistent with the inspector general's recommendations.

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