Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general in sending a letter to U.S. Congressional leaders expressing support for the Governing Unaccredited Representatives Defrauding VA Benefits Act (G.U.A.R.D. VA Benefits Act). The letter, led by the National Association of Attorneys General and signed by 44 attorneys general, was transmitted to U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The legislation, introduced by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) and U.S. Representative Chris Pappas (D-NH), “imposes fines on individuals for soliciting, contracting for, charging, or receiving any unauthorized fee of compensation with respect to the preparation, presentation, or prosecution of any claim for Department of Veterans Affairs benefits.” Federal law requires that those who solicit or charge money from veterans to assist with their applications for benefits must be accredited by the VA Office of General Counsel. However, penalties for violations were removed in 2006.
In their letter, the attorneys general urge members of Congress “to protect our veterans, and their families, from unaccredited predatory actors who seek to profit from veterans’ service and sacrifice with total disregard for the laws designed to protect those veterans and their benefits.” They add, “Our veterans deserve to be honored, not disproportionately targeted for financial victimization.”
The attorneys general of California, Illinois, Ohio, and Tennessee co-sponsored the letter.
H.R. 1139 has 118 bipartisan co-sponsors and is currently before the House – Veterans’ Affairs and Judiciary Committees. S. 740 has 17 bipartisan co-sponsors and is currently before the Senate – Veterans’ Affairs Committee.