VA secretary forces departure of Trump loyalist Peter O'Rourke for 'getting paid to sit on his couch'

VA secretary forces departure of Trump loyalist Peter O'Rourke for 'getting paid to sit on his couch'

Robert Wilkie, secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, has demanded the resignation of Trump loyalist Peter O’Rourke from the VA, according to the Washington Post.

O’Rourke has had a chaotic stay in the VA, where he served as chief of staff before spending two months as the department’s acting secretary. In August, O’Rourke was given the title “senior adviser” at the agency. 

In an interview with the Washington Post, O’Rourke stressed that he remains “very supportive of the president and the agenda of the Trump Administration” and is hoping to rejoin the Administration in some capacity—although he said there doesn’t appear to be “a request at this time.”

One of the agencies in which Trump promised to “drain the swamp” was the VA. But in 2018, O’Rourke has been criticized for drawing a six-figure salary with the agency—as high as $161,000, according to the Washington Post—despite not being very busy. O’Rourke, speaking to the Post, admitted that in 2018, there were “times I didn’t have a lot to do.”

Days before the Trump loyalist’s departure from the VA, an anonymous senior official in the Trump Administration said of O’Rourke, “I don’t think he has any actual responsibilities at work.”

Paul Rieckhoff, founder of advocacy organization Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, blasted the administration's efforts at the VA. “You say you’ve been cleaning up VA, but this guy’s been getting paid to sit on his couch,” Rieckhoff said.

In an e-mail to the Post, Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington State described O’Rourke’s appointment to the VA as an example of cronyism. 

“The VA’s mission is and always has been to serve veterans, not dole out political favors,” Murray asserted in her e-mail. “I was deeply concerned by Mr. O’Rourke’s time at VA, where as acting secretary, he made a number of questionable decisions and personnel changes that were suspect at best.”

p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Arial; color: #000000; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000}

p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Arial; color: #000000; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000; min-height: 14.0px}

span.s1 {font-kerning: none}

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.