White House Denies Inspector General's Suggestion Advance Team Volunteer Was Possibly Involved in Colombia Scandal
The White House today rejected an inspector general's suggestion that a White House Advance Staff volunteer may have been involved in the U.S. Secret Service scandal involving Colombian prostitutes.
In a letter to Congress, Charles Edwards, the Acting Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security, noted that while the scope of his "investigation was limited to the conduct of the DHS personnel in Cartagena, we did find a hotel registry that suggests that two non-USSS personnel may have had contact with foreign nationals." Since the two instances were outside his area of inquiry, Edwards "did not conduct any additional investigation into this finding and has made no determination related to these individuals because they are not DHS personnel."
One "of these employees is a Department of Defense employee affiliated with the White House Communication Agency," Edwards said, "and the other, whose employment status was not verified, may have been affiliated with the White House advance operation."
White House spokesman Eric Schultz responded, saying, "As we've said for months, the White House review concluded that no members of the White House advance team, either staff or volunteers, engaged in inappropriate conduct during the President's trip to Colombia."
A senior administration official noted that the U.S. Secret Service noted that one of its agents had been falsely accused in the scandal because, according to a letter from Secret Service director Mark Sullivan to Rep. Peter King, R-NY, in May, a Pentagon "employee admitted to writing a USSS room number on the registration card when he brought his female guest into the El Caribe Hotel."
The Obama administration suggests that an internal White House investigation concluded that the same happened to this other individual - a civilian volunteer with the White House Advance Team.
"Based on an inaccurate hotel records, at least two people were wrongly implicated in Colombia - one of which was Secret Service personnel, as Director Sullivan has made clear, and the other was a White House volunteer for the advance team," the senior administration official noted. "In the White House review, we found no other corroborating materials, and concluded that the hotel record was erroneous and that the volunteer did not engage in any inappropriate behavior."
The White House would not name the individual in question.
The April scandal - which came to light because one of the Secret Service agents refused to pay his bill - resulted in eight agents losing their jobs and another losing his security clearance. More than ten members of the U.S. military were punished for their participation in the scandal.