Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, threatened to subpoena the Department of Veterans Affairs if it did not provide accurate figures of the taxpayer money spent on artwork.
Miller pointed to the $20 million VA officials have used to purchase paintings, sculptures and "ornamental furnishings" over the past decade in a letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald on Friday, in which he demanded a full accounting of the funds diverted to agency art.
The Florida Republican noted his own committee had uncovered $6.5 million in expenses related to decorating rooms at a single VA facility in Palo Alto, Calif.
"Either the reported $20 million, 10-year total is incomplete, or the Palo Alto Healthcare System expenditures represent an extraordinarily large portion of VA's nationwide spending," Miller wrote.
Miller originally asked the VA to hand over documentation of its art-related expenses in October, but the agency declined to respond. In his letter to McDonald on Friday, Miller threatened to issue a subpoena for the spending records if officials did not provide them by Aug. 26.
At the same time VA officials ratcheted up funding for art and decorations, thousands of veterans died waiting for care through bureaucratic failures that were often blamed on a lack of funding.