Apology from Secret Service Boss for Prostitution Scandal
WASHINGTON D.C. — Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan apologized Wednesday for the embarrassment of the Colombia prostitution scandal, but told a Senate committee that it was an aberration and he doesn’t believe the culture of the agency condoned such misconduct.
Sullivan began testifying for the first time since the scandal broke in Cartagena, Colombia. The prostitute party happened before President Barack Obama’s arrival for a South American summit in April, when the Secret Service was supposed to be preparing and establishing security for his arrival.
A dozen Secret Service officers and supervisors and 12 other U.S. military personnel were implicated in the scandal. Eight Secret Service employees lost their jobs.
At the Senate hearing on the scandal, Sullivan apologized “for the conduct of these employees and the distraction it has caused.”
“But I just think that between the alcohol and- I don’t know, the environment, these individuals did some really dumb things. And I just can’t explain why they would have done what they do, but I will tell you I do not believe they did it because they believed that this type of behavior would be tolerated,” said Sullivan.
Sen. Susan Collins, the senior Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, told Sullivan that she doesn’t believe the scandal was an isolated incident.
“The behavior is morally repugnant and I certainly don’t want to downplay that fact,” said Sullivan. “My concerns, however, go far beyond the morality of the agents actions. First of all, this reckless behavior could easily have compromised the individuals charged with the security of the President of the United States and second, the facts so far, lead me to conclude that while not all representative of the majority of Secret Service personnel, this misconduct was almost certainly not an isolated incident.”
While prostitution is legal in Colombia, the scandal was reportedly exposed when one employee got into a dispute with a prostitute over payment.
So far, Sullivan has won praise for quickly addressing the scandal. Eight agents lost their jobs in the ensuing investigation that also implicated a dozen members of the U.S. military.
However, according to a Washington Post report, four Secret Service agents who were dismissed now plan to fight to get their jobs back. Some say they didn’t know the women involved were prostitutes and that the Secret Service was under intense pressure to find scapegoats.
At least two Drug Enforcement Agency agents are being investigated for possible misconduct in a separate incident in Colombia.