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3 Secret Service Agents sent home from Amsterdam after night out drinking

USSS

Washington Post:

Three Secret Service agents responsible for protecting President Obama in Amsterdam this week were sent home and put on administrative leave Sunday after going out for a night of drinking, according to three people familiar with the incident. One of the agents was found drunk and passed out in a hotel hallway, the people said.

The hotel staff alerted the U.S. Embassy in the Netherlands after finding the unconscious agent Sunday morning, a day before Obama arrived in the country, according to two of the people. The embassy then alerted Secret Service managers on the presidential trip, which included the agency’s director, Julia Pierson.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan confirmed Tuesday evening that the agency “did send three employees home for disciplinary reasons” and that they were put on administrative leave pending an investigation. Donovan declined to comment further.

According to two people familiar with the Amsterdam incident, the three are members of the Secret Service’s Counter Assault Team, known in the agency as CAT.

The story goes on to say that the actions would violate new rules put in place after what happened in Cartagena.

 

Former Ehrlich administration official receives probation for impersonating federal agent

ballinger

The Baltimore Sun reports that Robert Ballinger received three years probation in federal court today. He was also sentenced to 200 hours of community service. Ballinger previously pleaded guilty to impersonating a federal agent. Reports he “impersonated” White House military staff stemmed from him wearing a lapel pin to get into an inaugural event in DC.

Ballinger, who was an official in the administrations of both Gov. Bob Ehrlich and Gov. Martin O’Malley, was charged with impersonating a Secret Service agent at a bank in Howard County earlier this year. Ballinger used a Secret Service badge to convince bank officials to let him cash a $300 check drawn on his father’s account.

Initially it was reported that Ballinger was a congressional staffer in the office of Rep. Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania, but he was actually an unpaid intern. Additionally, Ballinger had claimed to be a top official in both the Maryland Republican Party and the Ehrlich campaign in 2010. I was the first to report that he was not on the Ehrlich campaign staff and I also speculated he had exaggerated about the Republican party role.

The Sun article confirms my initial speculation about Ballinger’s role in the GOP:

Ballinger also lists himself as “Director of Opposition Research and Communications” for the Maryland Republican Party, but Joe Cluster, the party executive director, said Ballinger volunteered for the party a few years ago and never held that high a post.

The article also reports that federal prosecutors requested that Ballinger be given three months of home detention.

More from the Baltimore Sun article:

I’ve made a big mistake in my life,” said Ballinger, a former spokesman for the Maryland Department of the Environment who ran for school board in 2004, 2010 and 2012, advancing to the general election on his last two runs. He said he had “shamed” himself and his family, and “destroyed my career” in an attempt to cash a check using a Secret Service badge that he bought on eBay.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark W. Crooks called this “a sad case, for lack of a better word.” He argued that Ballinger be sentenced to three months of home confinement.

Arguing for probation, Ballinger’s lawyer, Leslie A. Stein, agreed with Crooks’ characterization.

“He is in every sense of the word a decent, decent man” Stein said of Ballinger, who has no prior criminal record. He said Ballinger is being treated with medication for bipolar disorder and suggested his condition may have affected his judgment.

After the 45-minute proceeding, Stein said, “I think the judge showed compassion, balance and judgment.”

Van Smith of the Baltimore City Paper was the first to report on Ballinger’s charges and has done an excellent job covering the court proceedings. Today’s article was the first mention of the whole situation that I’ve seen in The Sun.

MD GOP activist Ballinger also impersonated military officer

ballinger

You may recall Robert Ballinger, former Ehrlich and O’Malley administration official, who was charged earlier this year with impersonating a Secret Service agent to withdraw money from someone else’s bank account. Ballinger was actually an intern in a congressional office, despite his claim to be a paid staffer. Additionally, Ballinger was untruthful when he claimed to be a member of the Ehrlich campaign’s staff in 2010. Ballinger, who had three failed bids for office, also claimed to be a MD GOP staffer.

On September 3, Ballinger pleaded guilty to impersonating a Secret Service agent to get $3,000 out of someone else’s bank account. His sentencing is Tuesday, November 19, and he could receive up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

One thing in Van Smith’s article detailing the statement of facts attached to the guilty plea caught my eye:

Earlier, in January, the statement continues, Ballinger “attended an inaugural celebration ball in Washington, D.C., and displayed a Department of Defense credential issued to United States Armed Forces personnel who serve as full-time military staff to the President of the United States for at least one year,” though “Ballinger has never worked at the White House nor served in the United States Armed Forces.”

Ballinger purchased the badge and credential on eBay.

Report: Possible Coverup in Colombian Secret Service Scandal

Susan Katz Keating reports:

We have not heard the full story of the Secret Service sex scandal in Bogota, sources tell me. Questions already are coming to light about the main incident and how the Secret Service addressed allegations that some of its members partied too hard while assigned to protect the POTUS in Columbia this year. According to a very well placed insider, the investigation conveniently left out one significant element: Who else was at the party?

“Check the logs for the White House advance team,” my source told me. “You will be surprised to see who else was there.”

The source did not specify whether the other partygoers were White House staffers or if their identities merely are being concealed by the White House.

Meanwhile, the whistleblowing call girl whose pay squabble brought Secret Service “culture” under intense scrutiny has curiously bounced high from the scandal.

This certainly raises eyebrows in an election year. The questions raised probably need to be investigated fully to ensure there was no coverup for political reasons.

Previously:
New Secret Service advance team scandal from 2009 in El Salvador uncovered
Secret Service probe widening to events in Buenos Aires and Moscow during Clinton admin
Presidential security group is “paradise” for single Secret Service agents due to women groupies

Secret Service probe widening to events in Buenos Aires and Moscow during Clinton admin

Bill Plante of CBS News

The Secret Service sex scandal is getting wider.

The dispute over payment to a prostitute in Cartagena, Colombia, by a Secret Service agent has triggered new charges of hard partying and impropriety by agents around the globe.

Two weeks after the incident in Cartagena, the Secret Service is working to quickly wrap up that portion of the scandal, but the U.S. government is investigating reports of unprofessional behavior and rule-breaking by agents in four countries, going back 12 years.

On Capitol Hill, there are growing demands for an outside agency to take over the probe.

Seattle CBS affiliate KIRO-TV reported Thursday that Secret Service agents visited a strip club in El Salvador — by the vanload — in advance of President Obama’s trip there in March 2011.

The Secret Service is looking into that report and some others, including accusations that Secret Service personnel traveling in 2009 with former President Clinton partied at strip clubs on a visit to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and that agents and White House staffers went to a Moscow night club known for its sexually charged atmosphere prior to Mr. Clinton’s trip to Russia in 2000.

The new allegations come soon after a hearing Wednesday in which senators were assured that the Colombia scandal was an isolated incident.

This report seems to corroborate what Paul Bedard reports that Clinton-era Secret Service agent Dan Emmett has written – that the presidential security group is a “paradise” for single men and is added to the list along with events in Colombia and El Salvador.

UPDATE: CNN reports that Secret Service agents on foreign travel will not be allowed to go anywhere “bad acts” are taking place and they will also be forbidden from having foreign nationals in their hotel rooms. Additionaly, professional development officers will go along on foreign trips.