Secret Service allegations spread
WASHINGTON — Secret Service agents and managers have engaged in sexual misconduct and other improprieties across a span of 17 countries in recent years, according to accounts given by whistleblowers to the Senate committee that oversees the department.
Sen. Ronald Johnson of Wisconsin, ranking Republican on a Homeland Security subcommittee, said Thursday that the accounts directly contradict repeated assertions by Secret Service leaders that the elite agency does not foster or tolerate sexually improper behavior.
The allegations follow a prostitution scandal last year in Cartagena, Colombia, that roiled the Secret Service and prompted numerous reviews of its male-dominated culture.
In a subsequent episode, The Washington Post reported this week, two supervisors were cut from President Obama's security detail after allegedly sending sexually explicit emails to a female agent.
Johnson said that one of those disciplined supervisors, Ignacio Zamora Jr., had helped lead the internal investigation into the April 2012 incident in Cartagena, where more than a dozen agents engaged in a night of heavy drinking and carousing with prostitutes ahead of a presidential visit.
One person involved in security in Cartagena said Zamora was chosen for the review because he served as the “second supervisor” on the trip, and was among the managers responsible for the security effort in advance of Obama's arrival for an international summit. The agency discovered Zamora's emails to a female subordinate after he accidentally left a bullet behind in a woman's room at the upscale Hay-Adams hotel in Northwest Washington.
Johnson said in a statement that letting Zamora investigate Cartagena amounted to “the fox guarding the hen house.”
After the Cartagena scandal, the agency adopted new policies banning the consumption of alcohol 10 hours before employees report to work and limiting consumption to “moderate amounts” during off-duty hours. Agents and officers cannot drink alcohol when stationed at the hotel of the public official they are assigned to protect.