WASHINGTON - A top Republican lawmaker said Thursday that more dismissals and resignations are imminent as the Secret Service continues its internal investigation into a prostitution scandal that has shaken the agency charged with protecting the president.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Pete King, R-N.Y., who had been briefed by Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan, said more Secret Service officials were expected to resign by today. Meanwhile, agency officials are scheduled to brief Senate Judiciary Committee staff today on the progress of the internal investigation.
The anticipated round of resignations and firings would follow the agency's announcement Wednesday that three officials involved in the scandal are leaving their posts. One official resigned. Another described as a supervisory employee was allowed to retire, and the agency moved to dismiss another supervisory employee for cause.
Lawrence Berger, general counsel for the Federal Law enforcement Officials Association, confirmed Thursday to the Associated Press that he is representing the two supervisors, Greg Stokes and David Chaney, but said he could not discuss details of the investigation.
Chaney, who protected former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin while working on her security detail during the 2008 campaign, once once joked on his Facebook page that he was "really checking her out."
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Read all The Oval posts Chaney made the comment on a photo of Palin that showed him standing in the background that was posted on his Facebook page in January 2009.
Details of the photo comments were first reported by The Washington Post. Speaking to Fox News, Palin said the scandal is "a symptom of government run amok."
"Well, check this out, buddy - you're fired!" Palin said.
Eleven agents and at least 10 military servicemembers - all part of an advance team that traveled to Colombia ahead of President Obama's visit last weekend for the Summit of the Americas- allegedly brought as many as 21 prostitutes to a hotel in Cartagena.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., have called on Sullivan to give lawmakers summaries of past misconduct by Secret Service officials during overseas trips over the past five years and to answer what lapses in agency policy may have contributed to the incident.
The two lawmakers also have asked the director for the disciplinary history of the officials involved in the incident and whether the Secret Service has been able to determine whether all of the women involved in the incident are at least 18.
Arnette Heintze, who was a Secret Service agent from 1983 to 2003, said it is not unprecedented for agents to be recalled from international details for misconduct, including "too much drinking," but he said the allegations raised in the Colombia incident represent "a tragedy" for the Secret Service.
"This is not part of the culture of the agency that I worked for," Heintze said.
White House press secretary Jay Carney cautioned that it's too early to draw broad conclusions about the scandal, noting that the investigation is less than a week old.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he anticipated hearings about the incident but doubted there's much Congress could do. "There's not a committee hearing that's going to take the place or stop people from being stupid," Reid said.
By Aamer Madhani, and Kevin Johnson