Report: US Secret Service agents ‘likely’ alcohol-impaired
WASHINGTON (AP) — Two senior U.S. Secret Service agents were “more likely than not” impaired by alcohol when they drove a government vehicle through a secure area at the White House earlier this year, a government monitor concluded in a report released late Wednesday.
Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth found that the agents spent about five hours at a bar during and after a retirement party for a colleague at the agency that protects the president and ran up a “significant” bar tab before driving to the White House on March 4. Their tab included eight glasses of scotch, two vodka drinks, three beers and a glass of wine.
Marc Connolly, the deputy special agent in charge of the Presidential Protection Division, announced his retirement in advance of the report’s release. George Ogilvie, the assistant special agent in charge of the agency’s Washington field office, has been placed on administrative leave, the agency said Wednesday.
Both men denied being drunk and told investigators they only had a few of the drinks over the course of the night. Ogilvie said some of the drinks on his tab, including five glasses of scotch, were given to other people at the bar, though he could not recall who received the drinks.
Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy said Wednesday he was “disappointed and disturbed at the apparent lack of judgment described in this report. Behavior of the type described in the report is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
Roth’s report said Ogilvie was driving and Connolly was his passenger when Ogilvie drove his government-owned vehicle into the secured zone where on-duty Secret Service officials were investigating a suspicious package that had been left in the White House complex by a fleeing driver.
Ogilvie “had to do considerable maneuvering” as he drove slowly through the area and pushed a larger construction barrier about five feet (1.5 meters) with the bumper of his vehicle. Clancy, who was not told about the incident for several days, previously told lawmakers that the agents “nudged” the barrier as they drove into the White House complex.
Roth’s report said “this was no mere ‘bump,’ but rather extended contact to shove the barrel out of the way.”
The report said the pair also unwittingly drove within inches of the suspicious item as they made their way through the secured area.
Roth said officers at the scene didn’t smell alcohol on either Ogilvie or Connolly, but three officers thought something was “not right” about the pair. A watch commander was later told by an officer that “they may be drunk.”
No field sobriety tests were given that night and both men were allowed to drive their government vehicles home from the White House.
Roth told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Thursday that the agents’ behavior was “troubling.” When asked if the pair should be punished, Roth said while discipline will fall to the Secret Service, he “believes there should be some consequences.”
Roth testified that Ogilvie and Connolly both violated agency policies barring driving a government vehicle after drinking and requirements that they self-report any incident that could gain public attention.
When pressed by lawmakers about what may have led the agents to ignore or violate agency policies, Roth said there is a lack of accountability within the Secret Service.
Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, a Republican, and the top Democrat, Elijah Cummings, said in a statement that Roth’s report was more evidence that the Secret Service is in need a “major cultural overhaul.”
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