No similar Secret Service misconduct complaints found

  • Article by: ED O'KEEFE , Washington Post
  • Updated: April 25, 2012 - 9:53 PM

The Homeland Security secretary said a review found no other recent events like those in Colombia.

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“We will not allow the actions of a few to tarnish the proud legacy of the Secret Service,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday.

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WASHINGTON - The Secret Service in the past 2 1/2 years has received no misconduct complaints similar to those about personnel behavior ahead of President Obama's recent trip to Colombia, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told lawmakers Wednesday.

"There was nothing in the record to suggest that this behavior would happen, and it really was, I think, a huge disappointment to the men and women of the Secret Service," Napolitano said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, noting that the agency has provided protection during more than 900 foreign trips and more than 13,000 domestic trips in that period.

The secretary said the Secret Service Office of Professional Responsibility had reviewed complaints from the past 2 1/2 years and found no similar allegations of misconduct. Those findings would appear to contradict comments by some employees ousted in recent days because of the scandal, who are privately contending that their conduct didn't warrant dismissal because senior managers tolerated similar behavior during official trips.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that people close to the accused employees said that in an effort to fight for their jobs, the ousted employees might opt to divulge details of how colleagues spent some of their downtime on presidential trips -- drinking heavily, visiting strip clubs and cavorting with women for hire.

During the hearing, Napolitano said Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan continues to have Obama's support and she assured lawmakers that his ongoing investigation "will leave no stone unturned."

"We will not allow the actions of a few to tarnish the proud legacy of the Secret Service, an agency that has served numerous presidents and whose men and women execute their mission with great professionalism, honor and integrity every single day," Napolitano said. "I have nothing but respect for these men and women."

The secretary testified at a hearing focused on general oversight issues at the Department of Homeland Security and scheduled long before the scandal broke.

Beyond general questions about the ongoing probe, senators asked Napolitano mostly about the Obama administration's immigration and cybersecurity policy and concerns about the Transportation Security Administration. The panel maintains primary jurisdiction over immigration and the Secret Service, but shares oversight of the sprawling department with other House and Senate panels.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., also voiced support for Sullivan's ongoing investigation, adding: "Nobody wants to see the president's security compromised. Nobody wants to see America embarrassed."

But Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the panel's ranking Republican, pushed again Wednesday for Obama to permit the Homeland Security inspector general to independently determine whether White House personnel knew about or were involved in the sex scandal.

"I want to know if the investigation involved pulling any hotel records in Colombia or whether we are to simply take the White House at their word," Grassley said.

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