Rep. Gosar’s Actions Cause Heads to Roll at the Secret Service for Agents Involved in Chaffetz Breach
For Immediate Release
Date: November 17, 2015
Contact: Steven D. Smith
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) released the following statement after Secret Service Director Joseph P. Clancy testified at a joint hearing held by House Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency and the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs’ Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management that agency employees who illegally accessed private information about Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Jason Chaffetz, will be disciplined:
“The actions of these Washington paper-pushers are despicable. Government employees should never abuse their authority in order to blackmail whistleblowers. Violating Chairman Chaffetz’s privacy and accessing restricted databases in order to retaliate against him for merely seeking government accountability is atrocious. While these desk-jockeys should have been disciplined a long time ago, I’m pleased that Director Clancy finally caved to Congressional pressure and decided to hold these nearly 50 Secret Service agents accountable for breaking the law and agency protocols.
“While the announcement at today’s hearing is a step in the right direction, there is still a lot of trash in Washington that needs to be taken out. Corruption and horrific behavior continue to plague the Secret Service and Obama Administration. I will continue to hold rogue bureaucrats accountable when they choose to violate the privacy and trust of the American people. A nice win today for the good guys.”
Director Clancy testified at the joint hearing that 42 Secret Service employees will be disciplined for their actions relating to the information breach of Chariman Chaffetz personal information. Director Clancey stated that each of these agents will receive three to 12 day suspensions, and that some could even possibly be fired.
On October 26, 2015, Congressman Gosar spearheaded a bipartisan letter signed by 30 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 about House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz.
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 30 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.”