Subscribe

Note: The following timeline comes from testimony, published accounts and the official VA IG report, “Administrative Investigation: Inappropriate Use of Position and Misuse of Relocation Program and Incentives in VBA.”

2008 – Diana Rubens became deputy undersecretary for field operations for the Department of Veterans Affairs, based in Washington, DC. She was responsible for oversight of four area offices and 56 regional offices, plus a benefit program that paid more than $70 billion a year to veterans and beneficiaries.

2010 – Kimberly Graves became director of the Veterans Benefits Administration’s Eastern Area Office, overseeing VA regional offices in 14 states. Rubens was Graves’ second-level supervisor.

Dec. 31, 2011 – Thomas Lastowka retired as Philadelphia VARO director. Rubens said she volunteered for the job but was told that Undersecretary of the VBA Allison Hickey wanted her to stay in DC.

March 2012 – Robert McKenrick was selected as the Philadelphia VARO director.

February 2014 – Rubens approached McKenrick about having him take over as the Los Angeles VARO director. McKenrick later testified that he said he would take the position “only if you direct reassigned me, only if you told me I absolutely had to go.”

March 2014 – Rubens voiced her desire to take advantage of the opening for Philadelphia director to Hickey, who assured Rubens that she would be “all in to help and make it happen.” Rubens grew up near Philadelphia.

April 2014 -- Antione Waller, St. Paul VARO director, was approached by Graves about transferring to Philadelphia. He agreed, but was later told that the position was no longer available so he would have to move to Baltimore. He testified that he was pressured to make the move.

May 6, 2014 – Rubens’ reassignment to Philadelphia is approved.

May 12, 2014 – McKenrick’s reassignment to Los Angeles is approved, six days after Rubens had been offered his job.

May 27, 2014 – Rubens and Graves had email correspondence about McKenrick’s relocation. Rubens would go from Graves’ boss to her subordinate with the move.

June 1, 2014 --- Rubens assumed her position as director of Philadelphia and Wilmington VA regional offices. She went from having oversight of 56 VA regional offices to only two, yet she retained her salary of $181,497. The VA paid $274,019.12 related to her move. McKenrick became director in Los Angeles, receiving a 2 percent raise and $20,000 in relocation expenses.

July 2014 – Graves volunteered for the position of director in St. Paul: “I called Diana Rubens … and said I’d like to through my name in for consideration for St. Paul. I’ve done my time,” she told investigators later. She would go from oversight of 16 VA regional offices to one, yet she retained her salary of $173,949. She has family in Minnesota.

July 27, 2014 – Waller received a 20 percent annual salary increase for going to Baltimore in a less demanding role as director, now making $167,000.

Oct. 19, 2014 -- Graves was reassigned from her position as director of VBA’s eastern area office to director of the St. Paul VARO. VA paid $129,467.56 related to the move.

March 2015 – VA Office of Inspector General asked to investigate Rubens’ relocation expenses and the broader PCS program.

Sept. 28, 2015 – Results were released from the VA’s Inspector General from the Administrative Investigation of Inappropriate Use of Position and Misuse of Relocation Program and Incentives. Rubens and Graves were referred for possible criminal prosecution.

Oct. 16, 2015 – Hickey resigned after IG report found she had helped Rubens and Graves manipulate the hiring system for financial gain. The report suggested Hickey be considered for disciplinary action.

Oct. 21, 2015 – Five VA employees, include Rubens and Graves, failed to appear before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs to discuss the IG report. The committee voted to issue subpoenas to compel their testimony.

Nov. 2, 2015 – Rubens and Graves appeared at a congressional hearing but told the House committee that they were asserting their Fifth Amendment rights to protect themselves against self-incrimination.

Nov. 20, 2015 – VA demoted Rubens and Graves and reassigned them to the Houston VA and the embattled Phoenix VA, respectively, pending appeals.

Dec. 3, 2015 – During review of appeals, the VA counsel discovered that – due to an administrative error – the demotion paperwork was incomplete. The VA was forced to rescind and reissue the proposal for demotions. Once the actions are reinitiated, the women have five business days to respond before final decisions are made. If the final decisions are adverse, the women can appeal.

news@stripes.com

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up