Despite the Administration’s appointment of new Secret Service Director, Joseph P. Clancy, in February 2015 to address the agency’s recent troubles, the scandals continue for the elite security force. On March 4, 2015, a car driven by a high-ranking Social Security official collided with a barrier on the White House compound. The driver and a passenger, also a high-ranking Secret Service official, attended a retirement party at a Washington, DC bar for Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan earlier in the evening and had apparently been drinking alcohol.
The barrier was temporarily set up on the White House compound by DC police officers and Secret Service officers who were investigating a reportedly suspicious package and attempting to remove bystanders from the scene.
According to witnesses, the 10:30 pm. collision occurred when Mark Connolly, second-in-command on President Obama’s security detail, and George Ogilvie, a senior supervisor in the Secret Service’s Washington field office, were driving to the White House to retrieve their cars after the party. Whichever official was driving activated the car’s overhead flashing lights and both agents were showing their badges to move through the area that was closed off by the security barrier. The car then ran through security tape and hit the barricades.
DC officers who witnessed the accident wanted to arrest the officials and conduct sobriety tests but were ordered by a Secret Service supervisor to let the officials leave.
In addition to allegedly violating Vehicle and Traffic laws, the officials also allegedly violated Secret Service regulations prohibiting use of flashing lights without a security-related reason and driving a government vehicle after drinking alcohol.
Secret Service Director Clancy ordered that the investigation be conducted by the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security. Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary stated that the agency will fully cooperate with the investigation and “If misconduct is identified, appropriate action will be taken based on established rules and regulations.”
Meanwhile, Connolly and Ogilvie were not put on administrative leave, though that is a common procedure for agents under investigation; rather, both officials were moved to “non-supervisory, non-operational assignments.”
Extensive finger-pointing began immediately across the political spectrum, as Americans struggle to understand how a once prestigious agency has fallen to its current depths. Some blame President Obama for a degree of laxity that encourages substandard performance. Others blame President Bush, who removed the Secret Service from the Treasury Department and folded it into the Department of Homeland Security. Still others claim the rowdiness originated in the Clinton Administration.
Wherever the blame is laid, there is apparent consensus on two issues. First, people are outraged by the “cover-up culture” and “different spanks for different ranks” attitude that allowed the two Secret Service officials to merely go home after the incident and to remain on the job during the investigation. Secondly, there is apparent agreement that if the allegations are true, the power-that-be should fire the two Secret Service officials in the car and the supervisor who prevented police from conducting field sobriety tests. If that isn’t a public mandate, it’s mighty close.
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