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Press Release

VA Chief Robert Wilkie Installs Political Aide at Watchdog Investigating His Inner Circle

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie transferred a political appointee, Daniel Sitterly, to a top role in the watchdog office that is currently investigating Sitterly and others in Wilkie’s inner circle.

Media Contacts: Adam Zagorin, Senior Journalist at the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), [email protected]; or Caitlin MacNeal, Communications Manager at POGO, [email protected]

(WASHINGTON)—Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie transferred a political appointee, Daniel Sitterly, to a top role in the watchdog office that is currently investigating Sitterly and other top VA officials in Wilkie’s inner circle, according to a new investigation by the Project On Government Oversight.

Sitterly, formerly a political appointee in charge of human resources at the VA, was installed as the deputy to Tamara Bonzanto, head of the VA’s Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection (OAWP). A whistleblower complaint reveals that Sitterly was named to the position over objections from Bonzanto and that Secretary Wilkie wants Sitterly to be “his voice” in the watchdog office.

The complaint was filed with the VA’s Office of Inspector General and the Office of Special Counsel, and was shared with Congress.

POGO also was told that prior to his installation at the watchdog office, Sitterly tried to learn more about confidential investigations into VA officials and said he would “improve the information” the watchdog office shares with senior leadership at the department.

Two Democratic senators sent a letter to Wilkie earlier this month expressing concern that in his new position, Sitterly “is in the position of exercising substantial influence over investigations of his former office and colleagues and beyond.”

Read the full investigation here.

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Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that investigates and exposes waste, corruption, abuse of power, and when the government fails to serve the public or silences those who report wrongdoing.

We champion reforms to achieve a more effective, ethical, and accountable federal government that safeguards constitutional principles.