Report: No DEA agents fired over prostitute scandal
An international Drug Enforcement Administration report shows that no agents were fired, and none given serious punishment, over the shocking revelations about sex parties with Colombian prostitutes and fratenerizing with drug cartel members came to light.
The report has one senior Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings, calling for the DEA administrator's resignation.
A summary of the internal report shows the DEA doled out punishments to 10 of its agents, which ranged from a letter of caution to a two-week suspension. None of the agents who participated in the parties was fired.
“They appear to have fraternized with cartel members, accepted lavish gifts and paid for prostitutes with no concern for the negative repercussions or security vulnerabilities they created,” an angry Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat, said at a Tuesday hearing on the matter.
In one instance, money to pay prostitutes at a farewell party for a high-ranking DEA official was included in an “operational budget” that used government funds for the party, the report said.
DEA agents also rented undercover apartments in Colombia and used them to host prostitutes, the DEA said in its internal report.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee staff made the internal report available at Tuesday’s hearing, which gave lawmakers a chance to look into the Justice Department inspector general’s investigation accusing DEA agents of attending prostitute orgies funded by local drug cartels in a foreign country from 2009 to 2012.
The DEA’s internal report expands upon that review, detailing 14 years of misconduct accusations, dating back to 2001. Ten DEA agents were accused of wrongdoing; seven were issued suspensions ranging from one to 10 days. The internal report depicts married agents, who did “the most running around” with women, as “out of control.”
Lawmakers expressed concern during the hearing that some of the government-funded sex soirees may have included teenagers.
In response to pointed questions about whether underage women were among the prostitutes, DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart replied: “I don’t know that.”
The explosive internal report shows that punishments recommended for the DEA agents also were reduced without explanation in many cases. It is also unknown whether any of the DEA supervisors who may have known about the accusations but failed to report them were punished.
The light punishments angered lawmakers from both parties.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican and committee chairman, expressed dismay and shock that agents were allowed to return to work quickly “with their secret clearances fully intact.”
“These agents compromised our national security and then essentially got a vacation,” he said. “There is no accountability, and that is unacceptable.”
Cummings said the report revealed “truly breathtaking recklessness” and showed “DEA agents as completely out of control.”
Recall that outgoing attorney general Eric Holder issued a memo last week reminding Justice Department employees that they were not to purchase the services of prostitutes. Cummings found that astonishing:
“Hello? Am I missing something?” Mr. Cummings said. “I think we are at an all-time low here.”
The DEA administrator, Michele Leonhart, made the lame excuse that civil service regs prevent her from firing anybody. Congress appears ready to remedy that with legislation that would allow the firing of Justice Department employees for this kind of wrongdoing.
The Secret Service has had its own prostitute scandals. Some have suggested that the culture in these agencies is responsible for the misbehavior, where a loose command structure along with a climate of machismo leads to these sexual adventures. I think it's as simple as rotten leadership from the top down. Until the agencies fix that, these sorts of scandals will continue.