Did Secret Service Agents Drunkenly Crash Car into White House Barrier?
One agent allegedly involved in drunk driving was No. 2 on President Obama's detail
More trouble for the embattled Secret Service: two high-ranking agents have been moved to “non-operational” duty, a Secret Service official tells PEOPLE, while officials investigate allegations that the pair drove a government car into a security barrier at the White House after a late night of drinking.
According to a report in Thursday’s Washington Post, the two agents were returning to the White House around 10:30 p.m. on March 4 after a colleague’s retirement party at a nearby bar.
The agents – identified by the Post as Marc Connolly, the second-in-command on Obama’s detail, and George Ogilvie, a senior supervisor in the Washington field office – happened to return as on-duty colleagues were clearing the complex in response to a suspicious package.
Witnesses told investigating officials at the Department of Homeland Security that the agents flashed their badges and had their government car’s overhead lights on as they attempted to enter the closed-off section. “The vehicle ran through security tape before hitting the barricades,” the Post reported.
Using lights and sirens in a non-emergency, non-security-related situation is just one of the Secret Service rules that were allegedly violated. Connolly and Ogilvie are also accused of disrupting an active security investigation in addition to driving under the influence of alcohol.
Officers on duty at the scene on March 4 wanted to arrest the agents and conduct sobriety tests, the Post reported. But they were overruled by a supervisor who let the agents go home.
A Secret Service spokesperson tells PEOPLE that director Joe Clancy turned over investigation of the “allegations of misconduct” to the DHS Office of Inspector General.
“If misconduct is identified, appropriate action will be taken based on established rules and regulations,” the spokesperson said.
Given several embarrassing security lapses and mishaps in recent years – from an intruder making it through the White House’s front door to agents fired for hiring prostitutes while on a presidential trip overseas – this latest incident prompted rare bipartisan unity on Capitol Hill in the form of a joint reprimand from congressional overseers.
Reps. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah, and Maryland Democrat Elijah E. Cummings – the chairman and the ranking Democrat of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, respectively – issued a joint statement Wednesday night:
“Although recent steps have been made to bring new leadership in at the highest levels, this incident begs the question of whether that is enough,” the lawmakers said. “The fact that this event involved senior-level agents is not only embarrassing but exhibits a clear lack of judgment in a potentially dangerous situation.”