Secret Service Plotted to Embarrass Congressman

Watchdog says private information on Chaffetz was leaked
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2015 1:24 AM CDT
Updated Oct 1, 2015 6:46 AM CDT
In this March 19, 2015, photo, Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
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(Newser) – Secret Service agents played dirty when a congressman criticized the agency, according to a government watchdog report. During Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz's investigation of the service, top agents dug into his files and decided to leak information about the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman, including the fact that he had unsuccessfully applied to join the service in 2003, reports the Washington Post. "Some information that he might find embarrassing needs to get out," Assistant Director Edward Lowery wrote in an email on March 31 this year. "Just to be fair." Within days, a news website reported on Chaffetz's failed application, the Post reports.

The Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General found that in the space of a few days, 45 Secret Service agents accessed Chaffetz's confidential file, Politico reports. Only four of the agents could claim to have a legitimate need to see the information and the others violated federal privacy laws, according to the report, which stresses that Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy wasn't aware of the behavior, NBC News reports. The agency has apologized and Chaffetz has issued a statement slamming the agency for using "a tactic designed to intimidate and embarrass" him. "Certain lines should never be crossed," he said. "The unauthorized access and distribution of my personal information crossed that line." (Read more Jason Chaffetz stories.)

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