The Secret Service director told a congressional committee Tuesday dozens of agents will be disciplined after they released embarrassing details about Rep. [crscore]Jason Chaffetz[/crscore]’s job application to the agency.
Director Joseph P. Clancy called the actions of the agents “inexcusable and unacceptable” during testimony before the joint oversight hearing of House and Senate Homeland Security committees, The Associated Press reports.
“I would like to publicly renew my apology for this breach of trust and affirm my commitment to restoring it,” Clancy told the House and Senate members.
Clancy told the committee that of the 45 agents said to be involved in the smear campaign against Chaffetz, 42 of them would be disciplined for their actions.
According to Clancy, each of the agents will receive three to 12 day suspensions, and some could possibly be fired, Yahoo News reports.
In October, a Department of Homeland Security inspector general report found that the Secret Service agents illegally accessed Chaffetz’s 2003 job application and leaked it to a reporter in an effort to embarrass him.
The Secret Service agents accessed the file more than 60 times, though they had “no official need to query” the documents. The first illegal inquiry came March 24, just 18 minutes after Chaffetz started a hearing into Secret Service agents who were found to be driving drunk and crashed a car into a White House barricade.
Over the next nine days, the application was accessed around 60 more times by different employees in the Secret Service public relations office, the counter-surveillance division, the division overseeing protection for former President Bill Clinton, the training division and at least 15 domestic and overseas field offices.
In April, the Daily Beast ran a story with the details from Chaffetz’s job application showing that he was rejected from a job with the Secret Service.
According to the DHS report, Assistant Director Edward Lowery appeared to be the ring leader of the smear campaign. In an email to a colleague, Lowery said, “some information that he might find embarrassing needs to get out, just to be fair.”
Clancy told the committee that the Secret Service has rules against disclosing material like the job application.
“I was angered by the willful disregard of these policies,” he said. “And I’m determined to ensure all employees are held to the highest standard of professional conduct.”
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