5 reasons the Secret Service prostitution scandal won't go away
The elite security agency is moving to quash the controversy by forcing out three accused agents. But the story is unlikely to end there
This week, the Secret Service forced out three of the 11 agents who are accused of bringing as many as 20 prostitutes to a hotel in Cartagena, Colombia, just days before President Obama was due to stay there. One agent was allowed to retire, the second resigned, and the third was fired. Ousting the agents was seen as an attempt by the Secret Service to quell an embarrassment that has dominated headlines, but it's unlikely that the controversy will be swept aside that neatly. Here, five reasons the scandal will stick around:
1. A lawsuit is in the worksOne of the three agents who lost their jobs is planning to sue, says Norah O'Donnell at CBS News. And the bloodletting is just beginning. More Secret Service dismissals "are expected this week," say Dana Bash and Deirdre Walsh at CNN.
2. Salacious details keep trickling out Among the new revelations: The agents planned a party at the hotel for some 30 people before they even began their night on the town, says ABC News. The agents went to the Pley Club brothel, "where they drank expensive whiskey and bragged that they worked for President Obama," and some "were serviced by prostitutes" there, before they brought prostitutes from the Pley Club and other clubs back to the Hotel Caribe. (See the Pley Club.)
3. The prostitutes are telling their side of the story In an interview with The New York Times, the prostitute at the heart of the scandal confirmed that a payment dispute erupted at the hotel the morning after the party, which led to the involvement of the local police and, eventually, U.S. authorities. The woman, whom The Times did not identify, said the agent tried to pay her about $30, when she was demanding $800. They eventually settled on about $225.
4. The government's investigations are just heating up "It's certainly not over," says Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, who is demanding granular details of the Secret Service's internal investigation. "We want a minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour account of what happened," says King. The government is also investigating "whether any classified information was compromised" by the agents, say Kate Andersen Brower and Jeff Bliss at Bloomberg News.
5. The story is becoming an election-year issue Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has weighed in on the scandal, saying he would fire all the agents involved. It's time to "clean house" at the Secret Service, he said. While both Romney and the White House have defended Mark Sullivan, the agency's director, at least one congressman, Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Virginia) has called for his head.