- The Washington Times - Monday, October 5, 2015

An inspector general reopened an investigation Monday into U.S. Secret Service agents’ efforts to embarrass a top congressional critic after agency Director Joseph Clancy admitted he misled investigators on when he first learned of rumors about information that would later be leaked to try to embarrass Rep. Jason Chaffetz.

Mr. Clancy blamed a memory lapse for providing false information, but Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth, who has jurisdiction over the Secret Service, said the issue is serious enough that he is reopening an investigation he had pronounced closed just last week.

It’s the latest embarrassment for an agency reeling from bad behavior and security lapses that included an intruder managing to run into the White House.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said he still has a “lot of confidence” in Mr. Clancy — a sentiment echoed by the White House.

Mr. Roth last week reported that 45 agency employees accessed Mr. Chaffetz’s personal information on about 60 different occasions, including the fact that he had applied to become an agent himself at one point. Only four of the 45 employees had an “arguably legitimate need” to access the information, Mr. Roth concluded.

Mr. Clancy initially told investigators that April 1 was the first he had heard of the rumor that Mr. Chaffetz had applied for a job with the agency, but he now says that was “incorrect.”

“When the report came out, I was advised that it was actually mentioned March 25,” he said Monday at a press conference. “I made a couple quick calls to confirm that, and I immediately called the [inspector general] to correct the record.”

Mr. Clancy maintained, though, that April 1 was the first time he learned that agency employees had accessed Mr. Chaffetz’s file.

Mr. Chaffetz, Utah Republican, became chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in January. Since he took over, the panel has looked into a series of blunders and gaffes on the part of the Secret Service.

On Monday, Mr. Chaffetz — who also has mounted a bid to become the next House speaker — called for a special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate the most recent breach.

“We don’t know how far, wide, and pervasive it was,” he told CNN. “I feel violated.”

Mr. Clancy took over after the Secret Service’s previous director, Julia Pierson, resigned in the wake of an embarrassing incident in which a fence jumper managed to elude security and gain entry to the White House.

President Obama turned to Mr. Clancy even though he was a product of the Secret Service, and many experts had said the next director needed to be an outsider in order to clean house at the proud but troubled agency.

On Monday, Mr. Johnson praised the Secret Service for the security provided during the recent visit from the pope.

“It takes time to turn a large ship in a different direction,” Mr. Johnson said, according to NBC News. “I believe Director Clancy has made a number of good changes, and I have a lot of confidence in him.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday that “to his credit,” Mr. Clancy “proactively reached out” to both the inspector general and Mr. Chaffetz to let them know after remembering that “he had better information to provide them.”

Mr. Earnest said Mr. Obama has confidence that Mr. Johnson and Mr. Clancy will take steps to prevent future disclosures and hold accountable those who engage in such behavior.

“I will say, that the president certainly takes this issue very seriously,” Mr. Earnest said. “This is sensitive information that we’re talking about and the thought that something like this would be politicized is wrong.”

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