Editor's Note: This story has been updated with comments from Rep. Chaffetz.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson meted out punishment to 41 Secret Service employees involved in accessing and leaking the application and rejection of a combative congressman who had been slamming the agency over several scandals.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, applied for a position at the Secret Service years before being elected to the House of Representatives in 2008. After taking the gavel on the Oversight Committee, Chaffetz began investigating the Secret Service, looking into incidents like the Columbian prostitution scandal and other embarrassing missteps by the agency over the last few years.
Secret Service employees reportedly wanted the congressman to be embarrassed, as well, according to a report in the Washington Post, and leaked his application and rejection to the press.
The documents had already been circulating around the agency for days before the leak, having been accessed at least 60 times, according to the IG's investigation.
It's not clear why Chaffetz's application was denied, though the congressman told The Daily Beast it might have been due to his age, which was close to the cutoff when he applied.
The IG looked into 57 USSS employees, including 11 officials in the Senior Executive Service.
"Given the nature and scope of the IG's investigation and findings, Director [Joseph] Clancy and I determined that he would be recused from determining accountability and that these matters would be decided by me," Secretary Johnson said in a May 26 statement.
Johnson ultimately decided disciplinary actions were necessary against 41 employees.
The most severe penalties were an official letter of reprimand for one employee and the resignation of another who leaked the information to reporters at the Washington Post.
Others were suspended from duty without pay for up to 45 days while the rest had their disciplines suspended "contingent on no further misconduct for a period of five years."
"Like many others I was appalled by the episode reflected in the inspector general's report, which brought real discredit to the Secret Service," Johnson said. "I hope and expect the Secret Service has put sad episodes like this behind it."
"This should have never happened and should not happen again," he said in a statement to Federal Times.
Director Clancy said the agency has put in place additional security controls to ensure only the right people can view personnel records and has made it clear to Secret Service employees that such breaches of privacy will not be tolerated.