Rep. Meadows Calls Secret Service Leak a 'Woeful Abuse of Power'

Brittany M. Hughes | October 1, 2015
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(Photo Credit: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

Another day, another Secret Service scandal.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on Government Oversight, released a statement responding to yesterday's report that Secret Service employees accessed and illegally released the personal records of Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Calif.), calling it a “woeful abuse of power.”

Meadows' statement reads:

"The United States Secret Service's mishandling of Chairman Chaffetz's personal information demonstrates a woeful abuse of power by a government agency tasked with one of the most important jobs in the country: protecting our nation's President. It is Congress' job to oversee federal agencies and to ensure that government officials are not misusing their authority. Chairman Chaffetz is a dedicated public servant who will not be intimidated by attempts at retaliation from an agency currently under investigation by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. I call on USSS Director Joseph Clancy to denounce this behavior and reprimand those involved."

The Associated Press reported yesterday that dozens of Secret Service employees viewed an application for employment at the agency that Chaffetz had submitted a decade ago. The record was accessed by a Secret Service employee 18 minutes into a congressional hearing looking into agency misconduct y by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which Chaffetz chairs. The personal records were then forwarded to other employees and eventually leaked to The Daily Beast, who published them.

 

Apparently, Secret Service employees released Chaffetz’s records in retaliation for the hearing, which was investigating alleged scandals at the agency including agents being drunk on the job. The AP reports Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and U.S. Secret Service Director Joe Clancy personally apologized to Chaffetz on Wednesday, while Homeland Security Department Inspector General John Roth issued a report alleging the employees' conduct was illegal.

From the AP’s report:

Employees accessed Chaffetz's 2003 application for a Secret Service job starting 18 minutes after the start of a congressional hearing in March about the latest scandal involving drunken behavior by senior agents. Some forwarded the information to others. At least 45 employees viewed the file.

Chaffetz applied to join the Secret Service through a field office and was rejected and labeled "Better Qualified Applicant" for unknown reasons. Chaffetz said he never interviewed with the agency and does not know why his application was declined.

One week later, Assistant Director Ed Lowery suggested leaking embarrassing information about Chaffetz in retaliation for aggressive investigations by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee into a series of agency missteps and scandals, the report said. Days later, on April 2, the information about Chaffetz unsuccessfully applying for a job at the Secret Service was published by The Daily Beast, an Internet publication.

"Some information that he might find embarrassing needs to get out. Just to be fair," Lowery wrote March 31 in an email to fellow Assistant Director Faron Paramore.

Lowery, who is in charge of training, told the inspector general he did not direct anyone to release information about Chaffetz and "believed it would have been inappropriate to do so," the report said. He told Roth the email was "reflecting his stress and his anger."

Lowery declined to comment though a Secret Service spokesman.

The incident comes on the heels of multiple recent Secret Service scandals, including last year when a man armed with a knife jumped the White House fence and made it all the way into the mansion before being apprehended.

 

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