The Secret Service violated federal privacy laws by improperly accessing Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s 2003 job application to the Secret Service, the Department of Homeland Security inspector general found.
According to the investigation, more than 40 Secret Service employees accessed the file more than 60 times, even though they had “no official need to query” Chaffetz.
Wednesday, the Secret Service apologized publicly to Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah who also happens to be a critic of the agency, for “this wholly avoidable and embarrassing misconduct” and promised that those responsible would be held accountable.
Chaffetz called the violation, “a tactic designed to intimidate and embarrass me.”
“It’s scary to think about all the possible dangers in having your personal information exposed,” Chaffetz explained. “The work of the committee, however, will continue. I remain undeterred in conducting proper and rigorous oversight.”
Chaffetz has previously investigated allegations of Secret Service misconduct as chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. (RELATED: What We Know About White House Aide Linked To Colombia Prostitution Scandal)
In an interview with NBC News, the Chaffetz said, “It’s a bit scary. If they would do this to me, I just, I shuddered to think what they might be doing to other people. I’d like to tell you how tough I am, but it’s scary, and it’s intimidating, and I will continue to investigate the Secret Service and others, but this should have never ever happened.”
The inspector general found Wednesday that the Secret Service violated the Privacy Act of 1974.
Chaffetz was informed about the violations in April, when Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson first apologized to Chaffetz.
The first illegal inquiry was made March 24, just 18 minutes after Chaffetz started a hearing into alleged Secret Service misconduct. Then over the next nine days, his job application was accessed about 60 more times by different Secret Service employees in the public relations office, the countersurveillance division, the division overseeing protection for former President Bill Clinton, the training division and at least 15 domestic and overseas field offices.
The report indicated that only four of the inquiries could be considered justified.
Johnson, the homeland security secretary, said Wednesday that “activities like those described in the report must not, and will not, be tolerated.”
Chaffetz called the revelations, “intimidating” and insisted, “Certain lines should never be crossed. The unauthorized access and distribution of my personal information crossed that line.”
IG Report on the Improper Access and Distribution of Information Contained Within Secret Service Data Syste…