Former VA Official Asserts His Fifth Amendment Privilege on Lavish Conference Spending

Published: Oct 30, 2013

WASHINGTON – At a hearing today on lavish conference spending at the Department of Veterans Affairs, John Sepulveda, former Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration at the Department, asserted his fifth amendment privilege and refused to testify about two conferences held by the Department of Veterans Affairs in July 2011 and August 2011 in Orlando, Florida.  These two conferences, which were purportedly organized to train human resources professionals, cost taxpayers approximately $6.1 million.

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Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., outlined the importance of Mr. Sepulveda’s testimony to the Committee’s year-long investigation into the conference.

“Mr. Sepulveda, today’s hearing will address the planning and execution of two Department of Veterans Affairs Conferences, held in Orlando, Florida in 2011. As the Assistant Secretary of Human Resources and Administration during the period in question you played a lead role in the conference planning process. You are uniquely qualified to assist the Committee in the investigation into the waste that may have occurred at this event,” said Chairman Issa. “Your name appears more than 80 times in the Inspector General’s report on the conference.”

Mr. Sepulveda refused to answer any question, including his current employment or retirement status. Accordingly, Chairman Issa dismissed him from the hearing.

The Committee also today released a staff report on the conferences, entitled “U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs 2011 Human Resources Conferences: A Culture of Reckless Spending.” A full copy of the report can be viewed here.