Two Secret Service agents who disrupted an active bomb investigation at the White House earlier this year were likely intoxicated after spending hours drinking scotch and beer at a nearby pub, according to a government watchdog report.
The agents, Marc Connolly and George Ogilvie, spent more than three hours on March 4 drinking at Fado Irish Pub after consuming alcohol at a friend’s retirement party, which had an open bar, the Homeland Security Inspector General found.
The bar tab for the retirement party shows that guests ordered 53 servings of beer, seven glasses of wine and three sodas between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. After the party ended, Mr. Ogilvie opened a tab, which showed that he bought more than five glasses of scotch, three beers and a glass of wine for himself and fellow Secret Service employees, according to the 55-page report.
Investigators concluded “it was more likely than not” that the two men were impaired by alcohol when their vehicle struck a barrel near a bike rack barrier, not long after Uniformed Division officers — charged with protecting the White House grounds — shut down the area to respond to a report of a suspicious package.
Mr. Ogilvie was driving the vehicle when it hit the barrel, according to the report. Video footage shows that the barrel “moved more than five feet” as it was pushed along the walkway.
The two men maintain that they were not impaired by alcohol at the time of the incident.
But the inspector general disagreed, saying the two exhibited “poor judgment and a lack of situational awareness.”
“Even if they had not been aware of the condition yellow through email notifications, it would have been obvious to a reasonable observer as they drove down 15th Street and into the E Street vehicle entrance that something was amiss,” the department report states. “Yet, according to the weight of the evidence, neither Connolly nor Ogilvie were aware of the situation until the [Uniformed Division] officers spoke with them,” the report said.
The three officers present when Mr. Connolly and Mr. Ogilvie drove into the area were suspicious of the duo and noted that something was “not right,” according to the report. Although neither agent slurred his speech when he spoke or appeared intoxicated in front of the officers, they were not making any sense, prompting one of the officers to call their watch commander, the highest ranking member of the Uniformed Division officers on duty that night.
The watch commander was informed by the officer the two men “may be drunk,” the report states.
The watch commander allegedly told fellow officers that “both agents were under the influence of alcohol, describing to one officer their condition as being ‘hammered,’” according to the report. But in a written statement to investigators, that watch commander described Mr. Ogilvie as not intoxicated and that his demeanor at the time was “polite and professional.” The officer did not, however, conduct a field sobriety test on Mr. Ogilvie to back up that claim, the report states.
The watch commander’s decision were likely a self-preservation tactic, according to one Uniformed Division officer, who told investigators the watch commander decided not to conduct a field sobriety test because it would be a “career killer,” the report states.
Lawmakers on Wednesday blasted the behavior of the watch commander, noting that the highest ranking officer on scene is a prime example of why the Secret Service needs a major cultural overhaul.
“It is sadly revealing that the watch commander felt it would be a ‘career killer’ for him to administer a field sobriety test to a higher ranking agent, especially given concerns within the agency about potential retaliation for reporting misconduct,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican, and ranking member Elijah Cummings, Maryland Democrat, said in a joint statement. “These are signs of a dysfunctional environment that must change.”
The two lawmakers are demanding the Secret Service swiftly insure that Mr. Connolly and Mr. Ogilvie are held accountable for their actions.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will discuss the March 4 incident with Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General John Roth during a hearing this afternoon.