Al­co­hol plays role in re­ports in­volv­ing Se­cret Ser­vice

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY JIM MCEL­HAT­TON

One U.S. Se­cret Ser­vice spe­cial agent drank too much al­co­hol and got caught af­ter a mi­nor traf­fic accident. An­other agent got nabbed af­ter driv­ing into a tele­phone pole. Yet an­other got ar­rested af­ter get­ting stuck in a ditch.

As the Se­cret Ser­vice deals with the on­go­ing fall­out from an em­bar­rass­ing pros­ti­tu­tion scan­dal, newly re­leased records are lay­ing bare the ex­tent of drunken driv­ing and other al­co­hol-re­lated mis­con­duct over the years.

Ar­rests span­ning nearly a decade were re­vealed in a highly redacted log on file with the Depart­ment of Home­land Security’s Of­fice of In­spec­tor Gen­eral, which re­leased the 229-page doc­u­ment to The Wash­ing­ton Times and other me­dia or­ga­ni­za­tions through a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act re­quest.

When the records first be­came pub­lic two weeks ago, Se­cret Ser­vice of­fi­cials were quick to point out that the vast ma­jor­ity of mis­con­duct ac­cu­sa­tions re­ceived by the agency in­volved nu­mer­ous com­plaints and did not specif­i­cally tar­get Se­cret Ser­vice em­ploy­ees.

But while many of the log en­tries may seem friv­o­lous, the records also re­vealed more than 40 in­di­vid­ual en­tries that de- scribed ar­rests of agency per­son­nel over their off-duty be­hav­ior, with about half of the cases in­volv­ing al­co­hol.

The case log redacts the names of the agency em­ploy­ees, the dates of the crim­i­nal charges and the names of the law en­force­ment agen­cies mak­ing the ar­rests. In some cases, of­fi­cials just de­scribed re­ceiv­ing in­for­ma­tion about an em­ployee’s ar­rest, and those records of­ten but do not al­ways make clear whether an ar­rest oc­curred.

But in other in­stances, agency no­ta­tions about pend­ing court dates, ar­rests and spe­cific charges leave lit­tle doubt that some Se­cret Ser­vice em­ploy­ees have had se­ri­ous runins with law en­force­ment.

The doc­u­ments also pro­vide a win­dow into the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Se­cret Ser­vice agents pre­par­ing for Pres­i­dent Obama’s trip to Colom­bia ear­lier this year who were im­pli­cated in a pros­ti­tu­tion scan­dal. The re­port, con­firm­ing al­ready pub­lic de­tails, said 11 Se­cret Ser­vice per­son­nel were po­ten­tially in­volved in the sus­pected mis­con­duct.

The scan­dal prompted both a pub­lic apol­ogy and de­fense of the agency by Mark Sul­li­van, direc­tor of the Se­cret Ser­vice, who tes­ti­fied be­fore a Se­nate com­mit­tee in May. In his tes­ti­mony, Mr. Sul­li­van sug­gested that al­co­hol may have played a role in the scan­dal.

“I have tried to fig­ure this out for a month and a half — what would ever pos­sess peo­ple to ex­hibit this type of be­hav­ior?” he said. “And I can tell you that I do not think this is in­dica­tive of the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of our men and women. [. . .] But I just think that be­tween the al­co­hol, and I don’t know, the en­vi­ron­ment, th­ese in­di­vid­u­als did some re­ally dumb things.”

Most of the records pro­vide scant in­for­ma­tion about the out­comes of the cases and to what ex­tent the em­ploy­ees faced dis­ci­plinary ac­tions af­ter ar­rests, if any.

Max Milien, a spokesman for the Se­cret Ser­vice, said the agency has its own in­ter­nal Of­fice of Pro­fes­sional Re­spon­si­bil­ity that in­ves­ti­gates mis­con­duct.

Cit­ing agency pol­icy, he de­clined to dis­cuss any in­di­vid­ual per­son­nel ac­tions but said fed­eral rules al­low for sanc­tions rang­ing from ver­bal or writ­ten warn­ings to sus­pen­sion and dis­missal.

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