DEA Chief Steps Down After Sex Party Scandal

Lawmakers from both parties have lost confidence in her
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 21, 2015 11:57 PM CDT
Updated Apr 22, 2015 12:01 AM CDT
DEA Chief Steps Down After Sex Party Scandal
Drug Enforcement Administration head Michele Leonhart takes part in a news conference at DEA headquarters in Arlington, Va.   (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

The embattled head of the Drug Enforcement Administration says she plans to retire after three decades with the agency. The announcement came amid mounting pressure for her resignation from members of Congress who questioned her handling of misconduct allegations against agents. Michele Leonhart, a career drug agent who has led the agency since 2007 and was the second woman to hold the job, had been widely criticized for her response to a scathing government watchdog report detailing allegations that agents attended sex parties with prostitutes in a foreign country.

After Leonhart appeared before the House Oversight Committee last week to respond to an inspector general's allegations that the agents had received lenient punishments, a bipartisan group of lawmakers issued a statement saying they had lost confidence in her. Leonhart will leave the agency next month, Attorney General Eric Holder said in announcing her retirement. "Michele has led this distinguished agency with honor, and I have been proud to call her my partner in the work of safeguarding our national security and protecting our citizens from crime, exploitation, and abuse," he said, crediting her with helping dismantle violent drug-trafficking organizations. (Read more Drug Enforcement Administration stories.)

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