The Secret Service forced out three agents Wednesday in a prostitution scandal that has embarrassed President Barack Obama, reports The Huff Post.
“Although the Secret Service’s investigation into allegations of misconduct by its employees in Cartagena, Colombia, is in its early stages, and is still ongoing, three of the individuals involved will separate or are in the process of separating from the agency,” Assistant Director Paul Morrissey said in a statement.
According to IBT, One supervisor was allowed to retire, another supervisor was proposed for removal for cause, and a third employee resigned, the Secret Service said.
The Secret Service did not identify the agents being forced out of the government or eight more it said remain on administrative leave.
“The Secret Service continues to conduct a full, thorough and fair investigation, utilizing all investigative techniques available to our agency,” the statement said. “This includes polygraph examinations, interviews with the employees involved, and witness interviews, to include interviews being conducted by our Office of Professional Responsibility in Cartagena, Colombia.”
The embarrassing scandal erupted last week after 11 Secret Service agents were sent home from Cartagena, Colombia, after a night of partying that reportedly ended with at least some of them bringing prostitutes back to their hotel.
The special agents and uniformed officers were in Colombia before President Barack Obama’s arrival for the Summit of the Americas.
The U.S. military is conducting its own probe of the incident, which happened overnight from Wednesday to Thursday. According to Reuters, the military service members being investigated are two Marine dog handlers, five Army Special Forces members, two Navy explosive-ordnance experts and one Air Force member.
The scandal embarrassed the United States and overshadowed President Obama’s participation in the summit.
“These are the first steps,” said Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, which oversees the Secret Service. King said the agency’s director, Mark Sullivan, took employment action against “the three people he believes the case was clearest against.” But King warned: “It’s certainly not over.”
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, led by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., sought details of the Secret Service investigation, including the disciplinary histories of the agents involved.
Sen. Susan Collins, the ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said she told Sullivan she found it hard to believe the episode was the only one of its kind, because “there were too many people involved.”
“He said they were scrubbing the files and looking at whether there were any hints that there had been previous incidents,” Collins said.
“Think of all the missions and countries that the Secret Service visits in advance of the president’s trips,” she said.
“I think they should look at disciplinary records, at whether supervisors were – had admonished (them) even informally,” she said. “My instinct is that this was not one-time.”
At the same time new details of the sordid night emerged . A 24-year-old self-described prostitute told The New York Times that she met an agent at a discotheque in Cartagena, the pair agreed the agent would pay her $800 for sex at the hotel. The next morning, when the hotel’s front desk called because the woman hadn’t left, the pair argued over the price.
“I tell him, ‘Baby, my cash money,'” the woman told the newspaper. She said the two argued after the agent initially offered to pay her about $30 and the situation escalated, eventually ending with Colombian law enforcement involved. She said she was eventually paid about $225.
Secret Service investigators have interviewed all of the hotel’s maids and cleaning ladies as part of its investigation, according to a person familiar with the investigation.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said on Wednesday that “I’d clean house” at the Secret Service.
“The right thing to do is to remove people who have violated the public trust and have put their play time and their personal interests ahead of the interests of the nation,” Romney said.
“I believe the right corrective action will be taken there and obviously everyone is very, very disappointed,” Romney said. “I think it will be dealt with (in) as aggressive a way as is possible given the requirements of the law.”