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Secret Service Agent in Sex Case Linked to Earlier Misconduct

A U.S. Secret Service agent involved in a prostitution scandal on a presidential trip to Colombia in April told investigators he earlier solicited women for sex in two other countries, according to a lawmaker.

Allegations about the unnamed agent’s behavior in the other two locations, El Salvador and Panama, were in a memo that Senator Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, distributed to his colleagues on the Senate Homeland Security Committee today. The memo is based on a review by Republican staff of a Homeland Security Department inspector general report that hasn’t been made public.

Investigators also reported allegations of sexual misconduct by Secret Service employees in China and Romania, according to Johnson’s memo. The memo didn’t provide details of what took place in those countries or how many agents were involved. Brian Faughnan, a spokesman for Johnson, declined to provide additional information.

Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan told the homeland security panel at a May hearing that what happened in Cartagena, Colombia was an isolated incident. In that episode, employees were accused of bringing prostitutes to their hotel rooms, triggering the worst crisis at the Secret Service outside of a presidential assassination.

Johnson said in his memo that Sullivan’s previous statements about the incident being isolated “suggest the administration misled or withheld information from Congress.”

Agency Culture

“We must know if a culture exists inside the Secret Service that could jeopardize” President Barack Obama’s security, Johnson said in a statement.

The Secret Service has been “timely and truthful” when responding to lawmakers’ questions, said Edwin Donovan, an agency spokesman, in an e-mail.

Senator Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut independent who is chairman of the homeland security panel, said Sullivan and the Secret Service deserve “a presumption of innocence unless real evidence leads to a different conclusion.”

Nine agency employees were either fired or voluntarily left as a result of the allegations in Colombia, Donovan said. Among them was the agent linked to misconduct in Panama and El Salvador in 2008 and 2009, he said.

The Secret Service and its parent agency, the Homeland Security Department, cooperated with the independent probe, said Inspector General Charles K. Edwards, who conducted the investigation. He declined in a statement to comment on Johnson’s memo and said his investigation continues.

Johnson said the inspector general also found that at least 11 Secret Service employees had knowledge of co-workers committing “similar misconduct” in situations unrelated to the Colombia trip.

Secret Service officials have said Obama’s security during the trip to a regional summit in Colombia wasn’t compromised.

ABC News reported yesterday on the inspector general’s findings.

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