A White House advance staffer may have paid for a prostitute along with Secret Service agents while preparing for President Barack Obama’s trip to Colombia in 2012, according to the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security.
The White House has denied that any White House staffers were involved.
On Friday, the office of Acting Inspector General Charles K. Edwards released a statement saying it has completed an independent review of the allegations.
“Although allegations related to the non-USSS personnel were outside the scope of the investigation, one of these employees is a Department of Defense employee affiliated with the White House Communication Agency and the other, whose employment status was not verified, may have been affiliated with the White House advance operation,” the inspector general’s office said.
The office plans to release a full report on its findings.
According to the statement, the office interviewed or attempted to interview 251 Secret Service personnel and reviewed travel records, hotel registries, country clearance cables, personnel assignments and Secret Service and embassy documents.
The inspector general identified thirteen individuals employed by the Secret Service “who had personal encounters with female Colombian nationals consistent with the misconduct reported around the time of advance activities for the President’s visit to Cartagena.”
The encounters, according to the inspector general, took place at the Hotel Caribe, the Hilton Cartagena and at a private residence.
“Through our interviews, we learned that three of the females left the rooms without asking for money, five females asked for money and were paid, and four females asked for money but were not paid.”
The statement said a Colombian police officer got involved when one female complained that an agent didn’t pay her. That woman, who knocked on the door of the agent for payment with the police officer at her side, ended up getting paid by another agent.
“Although we found that these agents engaged in misconduct, our investigation developed no evidence to suggest that the actions of USSS personnel in Cartagena compromised the safety and security of the President or any sensitive information during this trip,” the inspector general said.