WASHINGTON – A number of US Secret Service agents tasked with protecting President Barack Obama during his trip to Colombia for the Summit of the Americas have been sent home amid allegations of misconduct, The Washington Post reported Saturday.
Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association president Jon Adler told the newspaper the accusations include at least one agent being involved with a prostitute in Cartagena, where the president arrived Friday.
Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan declined to confirm what the allegations involved, but said in a statement that “the Secret Service takes all allegations of misconduct seriously” and the incident was being investigated by the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility.
Donovan did not specify how many agents were involved, nor how many had been recalled from Colombia. “These personnel changes will not affect the comprehensive security plan that has been prepared in advance of the President’s trip,” his statement said. The Post said it was alerted to the misconduct by journalist Ronald Kessler, who has written a book on the Secret Service. Kessler said as many as 12 agents had been sent home. Kessler said soliciting prostitutes is legal in Colombia, but was considered inappropriate by the Secret Service. Obama flew into Colombia on Friday afternoon for the Americas summit, which is set to be attended by leaders from throughout the region. The Secret Service, which employs some 3,200 agents and 1,300 uniformed police, has been in the spotlight for a number of notable incidents since Obama took office three years ago.
In late 2009 investigations were launched after an uninvited couple - a pair of aspiring reality TV stars - gatecrashed Obama’s first state dinner at the White House, gaining access to the party and even getting photographed with the president.
The couple from Virginia, Tareq and Michaele Salahi, made headlines after attending the early part of the dinner honoring visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh despite lacking either an invitation or proper Secret Service clearance.