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Rep. Gosar to Secret Service: I Want Corrective Action, and I Want It Now!

27 October 2015   Steven D. Smith
Rep. Gosar to Secret Service: I Want Corrective Action, and I Want It Now!

“We cannot let rogue federal agency employees off the hook for breaking the law and seeking retaliation against Chairman Chaffetz for simply doing his job”

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) released the following statement after spearheading a bipartisan letter signed by 29 members of Congress to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson and Secret Service Director Joseph P. Clancy demanding that corrective action be taken against all Secret Service employees who broke the law by improperly accessing and leaking private information on House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz:

“This lawless administration has no limitations when it comes to seeking retribution and punishing those who disagree with the president’s misguided agenda. We are now all too familiar with the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS. While those incidents are despicable in their own right, it is absolutely atrocious that nearly 50 Secret Service employees would violate Chairman Chaffetz’s privacy and access restricted databases. Disclosing the Chairman’s sensitive information without an official purpose and breaking federal law in seeking to publically embarrass him is reprehensible. Violations of a U.S. citizen’s privacy in this manner cannot be tolerated, regardless of party affiliation. Why has no one at the Secret Service been fired or reprimanded for their involvement in this matter?

“During his short tenure as Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Chairman Chaffetz has proven to be effective in exposing the rampant waste, fraud and abuse occurring throughout the federal government. Under his leadership the committee was able to uncover the gross and blatant negligence allowed under former Secret Service Director Julia Pierson which ultimately resulted in her removal. We cannot let rogue federal agency employees off the hook for breaking the law and seeking retaliation against someone who is simply doing their job. I demand Secretary Johnson and Director Clancy take immediate action against the Secret Service employees responsible for this data breach.”

Following the conclusion of his investigation John Roth, Inspector General (IG) for the Department of Homeland Securitystated, “This episode reflects extremely poor judgment and a lack of care on the part of a number of Secret Service employees. Given the sensitivity of the information with which these agents are entrusted, particularly with regard to their protective function, this episode is deeply disturbing. Secret Service leadership must ensure that behavior like this will not be tolerated.”

Background

The full text of Congressman Gosar’s letter to DHS Secretary Johnson and Secret Service Director Clancy can be found HERE.

Congressman Gosar’s letter was signed by 29 bipartisan members in the House including: Democrat Ranking Member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee Elijah Cummings, Reps. Ralph Abraham, Brian Babin, Rod Blum, Dave Brat, Ken Buck, Buddy Carter, Kevin Cramer, Scott DesJarlais, Ron DeSantis, Jeff Duncan, Trent Franks, Morgan Griffith, Glenn Grothman, Andy Harris, Jody Hice, Cynthia Lummis, Walter B. Jones, Mark Meadows, Richard Nugent, John Ratcliffe, Matt Salmon, David Schweikert, Lamar Smith, Mark Walker, Randy Weber, Peter Welch, Bruce Westerman, and Ted Yoho.

This Office of Inspector General issued a press release on September 30, 2015, summarizing an investigation that was initiated in response to “the allegation that one or more United States Secret Service (Secret Service) agents accessed, through restricted Secret Service databases, the employment application of an individual who later became a member of Congress, which was then published by the media.”

A September 25th memorandum on the investigation into this matter by IG Roth revealed that more than 40 employees at the Secret Service improperly accessed information in Chairman Chaffetz’s file. While the investigation was unable to conclude how many of these employees disclosed this information to others, IG Roth “did conclude that the disclosure was widespread.” He also found that “each employee who accessed the Chairman’s application and disclosed it to another without an official purpose in doing so violated the Privacy Act, Secret Service policy and DHS policy.”

The IG investigation also “identified 18 supervisors — including the Acting Chief of Staff and the Deputy Director — who knew or should have known that Chairman Chaffetz’s personal information was being accessed. Yet, with a single exception, there was no evidence that any of the managers attempted to inform up the chain or to stop or remediate the activity.”

Finally, the IG investigation revealed retaliatory motives for this data breach in an email from Secret Service Assistant Director Edward Lowery in which Director Lowery said of Chaffetz, “some information that he might find embarrassing needs to get out. Just to be fair.”

The Washington Post further reported that on the day after a contentious July hearing, Chairman Chaffetz’s sensitive personal information “was spread to nearly every layer of the service” and that “staff members in the most senior headquarters offices, the president’s protective detail, the public affairs office, the office of investigations, and field offices in Sacramento, Charlotte, Dallas and elsewhere accessed Chaffetz’s file—and many acknowledged sharing it widely.” The Post also reported that “the day after the March 24 hearing, one agent who had been sent to New York for the visit of the president of Afghanistan recalled that nearly all of the 70 agents at a briefing were discussing it.”

In an addendum to the September 25th Memorandum, IG Roth issued more revelatory evidence that was particularly damaging to Director Clancy stating, “We are unable to reconcile Director Clancy’s October 2nd statement to investigators – that he had no independent recollection of events, but was simply relying on what others had told him – with his statement released to the media the day before…We do know that Director Clancy was told of the information from three different sources – Deputy Director Magaw, the former Directors at the luncheon, and Deputy Assistant Director Biermann. We also know that no agency-wide affirmative steps were taken to stop access to the record until after the information was reported in the media.”

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