The Secret Service apologized Wednesday to Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a prominent critic of the agency, for violating federal privacy law by improperly accessing sensitive personal information about him dozens of times in little more than a single week.
Chaffetz, R-Utah — who has aggressively pursued allegations of Secret Service misconduct as chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform — called the unauthorized retrieval of his unsuccessful application to join the Secret Service in 2003 “a tactic designed to intimidate and embarrass me.”
“It’s scary to think about all the possible dangers in having your personal information exposed,” Chaffetz said in a statement late Wednesday afternoon. “The work of the committee, however, will continue. I remain undeterred in conducting proper and rigorous oversight.”
Later, in a short interview with NBC News, the congressman reiterated how chilling the report was.
“It’s a bit scary. If they would do this to me, I just, I shuddered to think what they might be doing to other people,” he said. “I’d like to tell you how tough I am, but it’s scary, and it’s intimidating, and I will continue to investigate the Secret Service and others, but this should have never ever happened.”
The improper handling of Chaffetz’s personal information was confirmed Wednesday in a 29-page report by the inspector general’s office of the Department of Homeland Security, which includes the Secret Service.
Related: Read the Entire Inspector General’s Report (PDF)
The report discloses an email in which Ed Lowery, the agency’s assistant director for training, wrote that “some information that he might be find embarrassing needs to get out.”
The report says Roth told investigators he believed at the time that such disclosures would be “inappropriate” and explained that his email was a human reaction by someone frustrated by “stress and … anger.”
The report specifically said Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy, whom President Barack Obama appointed in February to clean up a long series of scandals at the agency, was not aware of the improper behavior.
When these allegations first surfaced in April, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson referred them to the inspector general and apologized to Chaffetz. The report published Wednesday details the improper behavior and harshly criticizes the Secret Service for violating the Privacy Act of 1974.
On Wednesday, the Secret Service issued a statement apologizing to Chaffetz for “this wholly avoidable and embarrassing misconduct” and promising that those responsible would …Read More