Less than 24 hours after he was fired as Veterans Affairs secretary under the cloud of an ethics scandal, David Shulkin slammed Washington as “toxic, chaotic, disrespectful and subversive” in a scathing op-ed published in The New York Times.
“I have fought to stand up for this great department and all that it embodies,” Shulkin wrote. “In recent months, though, the environment in Washington has turned so toxic, chaotic, disrespectful and subversive that it became impossible for me to accomplish the important work that our veterans need and deserve.”
He continued: “I came to government with an understanding that Washington can be ugly, but I assumed that I could avoid all of the ugliness by staying true to my values.”
President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced Shulkin’s termination on Twitter, after weeks of speculation he was on the outs. Trump said he intends to name Adm. Ronny L. Jackson, the presidential physician, to the post.
Shulkin, the lone Democrat in Trump’s Cabinet, was appointed in January 2017 after serving in the Obama administration, though Trump had promised to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Shulkin’s tenure wasn’t without scandal. An inspector general’s investigation concluded he had violated ethics rules with a trip to London and Copenhagen with his wife last summer. The 10-day trip involved only 3-1/2 working days, cost taxpayers $122,334, and included the use of a VA subordinate as “a personal travel concierge” and improper acceptance of free tickets to the Wimbledon tennis match, the inspector general’s report said.
Shulkin pledged to reimburse the government for his wife’s travel costs and make a contribution to the treasury for the value of the Wimbledon tickets.
“I have been falsely accused of things by people who wanted me out of the way,” Shulkin wrote in his op-ed for the Times, blaming administration political appointees “who seek to privatize veteran health care as an alternative to government-run V.A. care.”
“But despite these politically-based attacks on me and my family’s character, I am proud of my record and know that I acted with the utmost integrity. Unfortunately, none of that mattered,” he wrote.
“As I prepare to leave government, I am struck by a recurring thought: It should not be this hard to serve your country.”
Read Shulkin’s full op-ed at The New York Times.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.