The Cable

The Secret Service Scandal Gets Personal

One of the lawmakers overseeing the Secret Service was once rejected for a job there. Is a person grudge influencing his oversight?

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The Secret Service is in disarray, riled by prostitution scandals, a botched response to a recent bomb threat at the White House, and an agency chief under fire from Congress. But is one of the lawmakers leading the charge against the agency grinding out a personal grudge?

That’s the suggestion made by Tim Mak over at the Daily Beast. He reports that Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight Committee that oversees the Secret Service, applied for a job there in the early 2000s but was rejected.

Chaffetz dismissed Mak’s question on whether his personal experience with the agency colored his oversight of it. But at the very least, it creates the appearance of bias, as the lawmaker, who has been in office since 2008, has been on a quest to address problems within the service charged with protecting the president.

Most recently, he subpoenaed two agents whom agency chief Joseph Clancy would not produce to testify at a recent oversight hearing. Clancy and his boss, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, defended that decision by saying their jobs didn’t require them to face questions on Capitol Hill. Chaffetz also has been one of Clancy’s loudest critics during recent grillings on Capitol Hill.

Ultimately, the revelation about Chaffetz’s failed application might end up doing the Secret Service more harm than good. That’s because senior staffers on the House oversight panel  have asked DHS to investigate whether information about the Utah Republican’s failed application was circulated to embarrass Chaffetz after whistleblowers within the Secret Service brought it to the attention of the committee.

Chaffetz’s personal connection to the agency he oversees doesn’t excuse the laundry list of problems within it. But it could help explain why he’s going after it with such vigor.

Photo Credit: The Washington Post 

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