The Cable

Following Prostitution Scandal, DEA Chief to Step Down

After a prostitution scandal and a vote of no confidence by House committee, the chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration will step down.

US Deputy administrator of the US Drug E
US Deputy administrator of the US Drug Enforcement Administration, Michele Leonhart, holds folders with documents during the XXVII International Drug Enforcement Conference (IDEC ), April 27, 2010 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. AFP PHOTO/ANTONIO SCORZA (Photo credit should read ANTONIO SCORZA/AFP/Getty Images)

Drug Enforcement Administration chief Michele Leonhart said Tuesday she will retire next month after failing to fend off widespread accusations that her agents partied with prostitutes in Colombia.

The DEA came under fire after an inspector general report released in March revealed that agents sent to Colombia to stop drug trafficking there ended up with sex workers who were being paid by the very same cartels the feds were supposed to track.

While the agents were with the prostitutes, local police officers guarded their weapons and property.

Lawmakers from both political parties gave Leonhart a vote of no confidence after she testified at an April 15 hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and the panel’s top Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, released a statement saying Leonhart’s testimony showed “she lacks the authority and will to make the tough decisions required to hold those accountable who compromise national security and bring disgrace to their position.”

The first woman to head a DEA field office, Leonhart came into the role as an acting administrator during the Bush administration before she was tapped by President Barack Obama to run the agency.

But according to the oversight committee, she proved herself “woefully unable to change or positively influence the pervasive ‘good old boy’ culture that exists throughout the agency.”

Attorney General Eric Holder announced her retirement in a statement Tuesday. Leonhart is expected to step down officially in May.


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