Report: Secret Service official wanted to leak 'embarrassing' information about congressman

Rep. Jason Chaffetz.
(Image credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

A report released Wednesday by the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security says dozens of Secret Service employees had unauthorized access to an old job application submitted by a congressman critical of the service, and an assistant director proposed leaking information he might find embarrassing as retaliation.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House oversight committee, applied for a Secret Service job in 2003, but was unsuccessful. The report states that in March, 18 minutes after the start of a congressional hearing about a scandal involving drunken behavior by senior Secret Service agents, employees accessed Chaffetz' application, and some forwarded the information to others, with at least 45 employees eventually seeing the file. On March 31, Assistant Director Ed Lowery sent an email to Assistant Director Faron Paramore, writing, "Some information that he might find embarrassing needs to get out. Just to be fair." On April 2, The Daily Beast posted a story about Chaffetz applying for a position, The Associated Press reports.

Lowery told Inspector General Joe Roth that he never asked anyone to release the information, and the email was "reflecting his stress and anger," the report says. Under U.S. law and Secret Service rules, Roth said, employees are required to tell their supervisors if they know of such behavior. The investigation found that 18 supervisors or senior executives knew that employees had access to Chaffetz's application, but just one notified Secret Service director Joseph Clancy, who said he first heard about the matter on April 1. Chaffetz told AP that Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has personally apologized to him more than once. "It's intimidating," Chaffetz said. "It's what it was supposed to be." In a statement, Johnson said those responsible should be held accountable and "activities like those described in the report must not, and will not, be tolerated."

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.