A Secret Service agent on Vice President Pence’s detail has reportedly been suspended after meeting with a prostitute at a Maryland hotel.
The incident, which occurred late last week, was initially reported by CNN and confirmed by the Associated Press, both citing unnamed sources.
A spokesman from the Secret Service confirmed in a statement to The Washington Post that the agency “is aware of an alleged incident involving an off-duty Secret Service employee.”
The employee was required to surrender all equipment and was placed on administrative leave, the spokesman said. The employee’s security clearance and access to all Secret Service facilities has also been suspended.
“We are exploring the full range of disciplinary actions,” the spokesman said.
Police responded to a call from the Maryland hotel manager who became suspicious of activity in one of the rooms, CNN reported, citing multiple law enforcement sources. One source told CNN the agent was caught after police saw him exiting the hotel. This was not a sting, the source said.
The agent was arrested and charged with solicitation and later self-reported his arrest to the Secret Service, CNN reported.
“The Secret Service takes allegations of criminal activity very seriously,” the spokesman said in the statement. The incident is being investigated by the Office of Professional Responsibility, he said.
“The Secret Service is committed to ensuring that all employees are held to the highest level of professional and ethical standards of conduct,” the statement said.
The incident echoed aspects of a scandal years ago that marred the agency’s reputation and prompted congressional hearings, investigations and vows from senior officials to curb a male-dominated culture of sexism and hard partying. The damaging scandal, reported extensively by The Post, stemmed from a night of heavy drinking in April 2012 in which male agents brought prostitutes back to their rooms in Cartagena, Colombia, during a presidential trip to the country. About a dozen agents were sent home from the trip for misconduct. Though prostitution was semi-legal where it occurred, it was still banned for Secret Service agents.
Then-Director Mark Sullivan apologized for the scandal but called it an anomaly. In the wake of that incident, the agency adopted new policies banning the consumption of alcohol 10 hours before employees report to work and limiting consumption to “moderate amounts” during off-duty hours. Agents and officers cannot drink alcohol when stationed at the hotel of the public official they are assigned to protect.
In May 2013, a senior supervisor in President Barack Obama’s security detail was accused of attempting to re-enter a woman’s room in the Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington after accidentally leaving behind a bullet from his service weapon. It later emerged that he and another officer also both sent sexually suggestive messages to a female subordinate. Officials removed one of the supervisors from his position and moved the other off the detail to a separate part of the division, The Post reported.
Last month, Joseph P. Clancy retired as director of the Secret Service. He was brought on by the Obama administration in late 2014 an the agency’s interim direction and then named the permanent director a few months later. He was charged, in part, with shoring up the agency after a period of crisis, The Post reported.