Forty-one? That’s how many Secret Service agents had some involvement in the shameful attempt to discredit Rep. Jason Chaffetz, now chair of the House Oversight Committee, by leaking his application to, and rejection by, the agency. Chaffetz had sharply criticized the Secret Service after a series of scandals and bungled operations, and some within the agency apparently thought they could shut Chaffetz up by leaking his personnel data. That, needless to say, turned into a very big mistake. Chaffetz ramped up his ire, forcing DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson to investigate the Secret Service yet again, this time for corruption.
As it turns out, there was plenty to investigate. Far from being an isolated incident, DHS found some level of culpability with more than three dozen agents, all of whom face disciplinary action ranging from reprimands to suspensions. And the circle of guilt apparently extends to the highest levels of the agency:
A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) investigation into the U.S. Secret Service’s disclosure of the personnel files of Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has resulted in discipline for 41 agents.
The leaker has also resigned, according to a statement by DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson.
The conduct of 57 Secret Service personnel was reviewed, including 11 in the Senior Executive Service level, the highest levels of government. Of those, 41 are receiving some level of discipline, according to the statement by Johnson.
This raises all sorts of other questions. How did 41 Secret Service agents have some involvement or knowledge of this “smear campaign,” as ABC News puts it, and leadership either did nothing or knew nothing about it? Is this a normal pattern of behavior around the Secret Service? How many other members of Congress will need to watch their backs simply for fulfilling their constitutional oversight duties over the executive branch?
Reprimands and suspensions certainly matter, but this smear campaign attacked the heart of constitutional government and separation of powers. Heads needed to roll at the Secret Service, especially since the breadth of the disciplinary actions make it clear that this did not result from the actions of a lone-wolf, loose-cannon agent.