by Chris White
Energy Department Chief Rick Perry said Wednesday he has no interest in becoming the next head of the Department of Veterans Affair despite reports suggesting otherwise.
Perry rejected reports he’s being considered as a replacement for the agency’s Secretary David Shulkin, according to an Associated Press report. He called the speculation “fake news,” adding, “I am energy secretary from now until the foreseeable future. Happily.”
President Donald Trump is souring on Shulkin, who has faced multiple ethics allegations, including claims he used government funds to pay for a trip to Europe for his wife. The president has been telling associates he’s seriously considering firing Shulkin if the situation further deteriorates.
Shulkin met with John Kelly, Trump’s chief of staff, Monday and told the beleaguered VA chief he has to ship-up at the VA and stop fighting with his staff. Kelly is fed up with Shulkin’s free-wheeling style and penchant for acting as his own communications director, sources told Axios in a March 11 report.
Perry has become a strong defender of the DOE, especially the 17 national labs conducting research on national security, renewable energy, and issues affecting the electrical grid. He became the butt of jokes during his ill-fated run for the presidency when the Texas Republican forgot the DOE was one of the agencies he intended on shuttering.
“I’m telling you officially the coolest job I’ve ever had is being secretary of energy … and it’s because of these labs,” Perry told an audience in May at Idaho National Laboratory. “If you work at a national lab … you are making a difference.”
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