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Senators on Secret Service: No ‘pattern of misconduct’

May. 23, 2012 - 01:07PM   |  
By RICHARD WOLF, USA TODAY   |   Comments

Leaders of a Senate committee said Wednesday that they have found no “pattern of misconduct” within the Secret Service, but they said agency records revealed 64 allegations of sexual misconduct by employees over five years — most involving email or online material — and 30 more involving alcohol.

The senators spoke during a hearing featuring testimony from Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan about the Colombian prostitution scandal that implicated a dozen agency employees, eight of whom lost their jobs. Sullivan said the agents “did some really dumb things.”

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said an initial review of agency disciplinary records over the last five years revealed 64 instances of allegations or complaints concerning sexual misconduct made against Secret Service employees. Most involved emails or other online material, but three were inappropriate relationships with foreign nationals, and one was a complaint of non-consensual sexual intercourse.

Sullivan said the latter case was investigated and no charges were pressed. In the other three cases, he said, “appropriate administrative action” was taken. He said prostitution was not involved in those cases.

Once in 2008, Sullivan said, a Secret Service agent was removed from the agency after soliciting an undercover police officer in a prostitution sting.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, was more critical of the agency, saying “the facts suggest to me that this likely was not a one-time incident — there were 12 individuals involved, 12. That’s eight percent of the male Secret Service personnel in-country.”

Sullivan had no explanation for their actions. “These individuals did some really dumb things,” he said. “I just can’t explain why they would have done what they did.

“We had some individuals who made very bad decisions.”

Several senators questioned whether the Cartegena prostitution scandal indicates a culture within the Secret Service that such behavior is acceptable, an inference Sullivan rejected. The senators said additional steps should be taken, including more frequent polygraph tests and stricter guidelines, to ensure similar incidents don’t occur in the future.

“How do we get to the bottom of it?” said Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.

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