VA spurns requests for documents
Not only did the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs fail for years to adequately oversee finances at the Good Neighbor Center, but it also has delayed for more than eight months in providing The Post and Courier with public documents that will reveal what the VA knew about the shelter and when.
In November and March, the newspaper filed Freedom of Information Act requests for a variety of documents that would reflect bookkeeping, audits and inspections at the now-embattled North Charleston shelter for homeless veterans. The VA is the primary source of funding for the nonprofit shelter.
So far, the federal agency has provided only limited responses.
Messages left with the VA officers handling the newspaper's requests have not been returned.
The newspaper's June and July reports detailing financial mismanagement at the Good Neighbor Center relied on documents provided by the shelter's board of directors. Some of those documents, including an audit conducted earlier this year, originated at the VA and had been explicitly requested.
The department acknowledged it has "on a CD ... a copy of the records we have identified as responsive to (the newspaper's) request."
But instead of providing those records to the newspaper, the VA provided some of them to the shelter so officials there could raise objections to the public release of information.
Board President Bobby Knight acknowledged that the shelter's own paper trail is incomplete. Cook took many of the facility's documents when the board fired her, he said.