VA: $52,000 ‘Patton’ parody video ‘misuse of taxpayer funds’

The Department of Veterans Affairs says that the $52,000 spent on videos parodying the movie “Patton” that played at two conferences last year should not have been produced and were a “misuse of taxpayer funds.”

The House Veterans Affairs Committee released the two 8-minute videos on YouTube Wednesday, which were produced by an outside contractor and feature an actor who parodied the opening scene of “Patton” for the videos, shown at two VA Human Resources conferences that were held in Orlando last year.

ADVERTISEMENT
The video is the latest wrinkle in the conferences that has drawn scrutiny from House Veterans Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) and House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), after the VA’s inspector general launched an investigation into the conferences.

In a statement, the VA said it is complying fully with the inspector general’s investigation, which has not been released yet, and it has removed purchasing power authority from any employees who work in the unit under investigation.

“This parody should never have been produced and this misuse of taxpayer funds is completely unacceptable,” the VA said. “This event took place over a year ago and we have already adopted new rules that reflect our continuing commitment to safeguarding taxpayer dollars.”

The investigation into the VA conferences comes after widespread outrage earlier this year that resulted from an $850,000 General Services Administration (GSA) conference in Las Vegas.

Miller says that the two VA conferences were estimated to have cost between $3 million and $9 million.

In addition to the $52,000 for the “Patton” video at the VA’s HR conferences, Miller said the VA spent $84,000 for VA-branded promotional items like pens and hand sanitizers, and that VA employees received improper benefits like alcohol, gift baskets and concert tickets.

Miller sent a letter Wednesday asking for more information on the VA conference budgets from Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.

“I have requested all budgets and materials for VA conferences that have occurred over the past three years to see if these two conferences are an anomaly or are part of a bigger pattern,” Miller wrote Shinseki in a letter released by the committee Wednesday.

Watch the videos below: