Nothing, really. As unbelievable as it sounds, Kerry O’Grady, you may remember, set off a firestorm among her agency by posting on Facebook that she was endorsing Hillary Clinton in 2016 and would refuse to protect Donald Trump from an assassin’s bullet. She was willing to lose her job over that public statement and so she has. But, it’s been a drawn-out process since then and there is some confusion as to her true status as far as her status at the conclusion of the investigation into her behavior on social media. Is she just being allowed to retire?
Earlier this month, the human resources department of the Secret Service sent an internal notice to all employees announcing O’Grady’s retirement, effective March 20. The notice was then deleted a few days later, fueling agency-wide speculation about O’Grady’s actual status.
A Secret Service spokesperson on Wednesday declined to comment on O’Grady’s retirement plans, saying only that the agency does not discuss personnel matters.
The retirement announcement has again roiled the agency over its handling of the discipline charges against O’Grady, whose case has been followed closely by agents since she first made the incendiary Facebook comments about Trump.
Most fellow agents did not know the outcome of the investigation into O’Grady’s misconduct because there was a shroud of secrecy hanging over it. Several agents and other employees who tried to look up her employment status on an internal Secret Service database of active agents were hauled before higher-ups and warned not to discuss the case in any capacity, numerous sources in the Secret Service community have told RealClearPolitics.
O’Grady is a public servant with a 23-year service history and certainly was well-aware of her restrictions under the Hatch Act. Yet, her anti-Trump feelings ran so deep that she was willing to throw her professional responsibilities away, “The world has changed”, and act as a political partisan. This happened in October 2016 and she continued to post such statements after the presidential election. Not only did she violate the Hatch Act but she was under what is called enhanced Hatch Act restrictions that restricted executive branch staff like her from certain political activities. She knew she was not allowed to use social media to support, much less endorse a political candidate.
The Secret Service, being like other government agencies, did not exactly respond in a timely fashion when an initial complaint was filed against O’Grady’s social media diatribes. They did nothing. Only when the story broke in January 2017 did the agency decide to act. She was finally removed from her position in Denver while the investigation was underway. She wasn’t just any Secret Service agent, you see, she was the head of the Denver field office. To say she wasn’t exactly setting a good example is an understatement.
Apparently, she reached a settlement with Homeland Security in October 2017 after being on paid leave during the investigation. After the investigation, she has been on both paid and unpaid leave. Now she’s set to retire with her taxpayer-funded pension. So, she wasn’t shown the door after the settlement, which would have happened in the private sector, to be sure, but she was kept on the federal payroll until she reached retirement. Talk about a sweet deal. She also retained her security clearance. It should be noted that the association of retired Secret Service agents, the Association of Former Agents of the U.S. Secret Service, also known as Old Star, expelled O’Grady as soon as her untoward behavior was uncovered in the press.
Further proof of O’Grady’s arrogance has surfaced since the investigation. She’s boasting to other agents that she beat the system. There is a new law that DHS is supposed to be upholding that doesn’t allow an agent to remain on paid or unpaid leave until retirement.
O’Grady in recent months boasted to other agents that she “beat” the agency’s misconduct charges and that she planned to retire within the next 60 to 90 days when she reaches a key milestone date, the sources told RealClearPolitics.
Congressional leaders have recently faulted DHS for the use of paid and unpaid leave to allow employees facing substantiated claims of misconduct to remain long enough to attain full retirement benefits.
After O’Grady went through the investigative process of which she was entitled, she should have been terminated, not allowed to ride it out until she could retire. The only sacrifice she’s made, if the reporting is correct is that her federal pay grade was downgraded from GS15 to GS13.
Additionally, O’Grady can start collecting a pension immediately after retiring if she hits the 25-year mark of her service. Her precise age is not known, but knowledgeable sources say she is in her upper 40s and nearing that 25-year anniversary with the agency. Certain federal law enforcement jobs, including the Secret Service, allow employees to start collecting retirement immediately if they leave the agency after 25 years or more.
The official Secret Service retirement notice says O’Grady is retiring at a GS13 federal pay grade, which suggests that the agency downgraded her from a GS15, her pay grade before the misconduct charges. All agents who hold the top position in a Secret Service field office must hold the rank of GS15, which she did, according to multiple sources in the Secret Service community.
What kind of money are we looking at here? At the GS15 level, O’Grady’s salary was $105,123.00 – $136,659.00. At the GS13 level, it is between $75,628.00 and $98,317.00. I’m guessing she is at the top end of the scale. Pensions are based on the employee’s three highest paid years. So, for O’Grady, that’s her time as a GS15 employee.
So, it sure does look like O’Grady beat the system. Nice work if you can get it.