Veterans Administration head Robert P. Nimmo yesterday reimbursed the government $6,441 to cover the wages of a chauffeur who drove him to work--in violation of a 1981 law. The Reagan appointee also said he will terminate a $708-a-month lease for a 1982 Buick Electra, which is larger than the compact cars provided to other agency heads.
Nimmo said he was acting on the advice of VA's inspector general, Frank Sato, who yesterday released the results of a six-week investigation into Nimmo's use of the car, chauffeur, $54,183 to redecorate his office and his decision to send his old office furniture to his daughter, Mary, who serves as Commerce Department spokesman.
Renovations at Nimmo's office, including the addition of a shower, violated a presidential directive that prohibited such remodeling, the IG report said, but the work was not "extravagant." Nimmo's decision to transfer furniture to his daughter also violated federal regulations, but did not cause any government loss, the IG said.
In a statement, Nimmo said he did not know he was doing anything wrong. Aides said Nimmo needed the larger car to accommodate handicapped passengers and had added the shower so he could get ready for official engagements in the evening.
Nimmo's announcement yesterday caught four members of Congress by surprise. Led by Rep. Bob Edgar (D-Pa.), the group had scheduled a press conference today to criticize Nimmo's use of the funds.