WASHINGTON — The Homeland Security Department is investigating two senior Secret Service agents accused of crashing a car into a White House security barrier, an agency spokesman says.
Secret Service spokesman Robert Hoback said Wednesday that recently appointed Director Joseph Clancy has been briefed on the March 4 incident. Clancy has asked the Homeland Security Department’s Inspector General’s Office to investigate the incident.
Hoback did not provide additional details.
The agency said the two agents have been reassigned to nonsupervisory, non-operational jobs.
The Washington Post first reported the investigation Wednesday afternoon. The newspaper reported that the agents drove a government car into a security barrier near the White House after a night of drinking.
The Post reported that one of the agents involved is Mark Connolly, the second-in-command on President Barack Obama’s security detail. The newspaper identified the other agent as George Ogilvie, a senior supervisor in the Washington field office.
The leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee — Republican chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah and top Democrat Elijah Cummings of Maryland — issued a statement Wednesday evening saying, “The fact that this event involved senior-level agents is not only embarrassing but exhibits a clear lack of judgment in a potentially dangerous situation.”
The crash investigation is the latest embarrassment for the agency tasked with protecting the president.
In the last six months, several top agency officials, including former Director Julian Pierson, have been forced out amid revelations of multiple, serious presidential security breaches. In September, a Texas man armed with a knife was able to climb a White House fence and run deep into the executive mansion before being apprehended.
An internal investigation and an outside panel report both described serious problems within the agency.
A four-member panel of former senior government officials concluded in a report released last year that the agency was too insular and starving for leadership.
The panel recommended an agency outsider to replace Pierson, but Obama earlier this year tapped Clancy, a retired agent who led the agency on an interim basis after Pierson’s ouster.
Incidents of drunken behavior have plagued the agency since at least April 2012, when more than a dozen agents and officers were caught up in a prostitution scandal in advance of a presidential visit to Cartagena, Colombia. In another 2012 incident, an officer from the uniformed division was arrested after being found drunk and passed out on a Miami street corner about 12 hours after a presidential visit.
In 2014 an agent on a trip to the Netherlands was involved in a drunken incident in a hotel. Weeks earlier, two agents in Florida were involved in a traffic accident that The Washington Post reported involved alcohol. Neither of the agents in that case was charged by local police.
After the Colombia scandal, then-Director Mark Sullivan issued new conduct rules for agents and officers who were traveling, including ordering that agents stop drinking 10 hours before reporting to duty. Agents and officers have also been ordered to drink alcohol only “in moderate amounts while off duty,” according to an updated Secret Service professional conduct manual obtained by The Associated Press.
The new rules would not have applied to the agents involved in the March 4 crash, as they are both stationed in Washington.
Chaffetz and Cummings, whose committee has been investigating the problems at the agency, said, “Although recent steps have been made to bring new leadership in at the highest levels, this incident begs the question of whether that is enough.”
ALICIA A. CALDWELL, Associated Press