Republican leaders – including Mitt Romney – have voiced support and confidence in Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan in the wake of the Colombia prostitution scandal that has rocked the agency he leads.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney told syndicated radio host Laura Ingraham on Wednesday that he has full confidence in Sullivan.
"The right thing to do is to remove people who have violated the public trust and have put their play time and their personal interests ahead of the interests of the nation,” he said.
|Director Mark Sullivan
Earlier, Romney said he strongly supported Sullivan.
"We are a nation, after all, under law and the president has confidence in the head of the Secret Service, as do I," Romney said.
The scandal erupted with the news that 11 Secret Service agents had hired prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, where President Obama was attending the Summit of the Americas.
Congressional sources who have reviewed the matter tell Newsmax they do not believe the misconduct that took place in Colombia is widespread within the agency, and have praised Sullivan for acting quickly and forthrightly on the matter.
Sources say that after the State Department was notified by local police, Sullivan immediately ordered the 11 agents to return to the U.S. and replaced them. After an initial inquiry this past weekend, all the agents questioned had their security clearances removed.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said he sees the incident as an “aberration,” and told NBC’s “Today” show that Sullivan “acted immediately” when he learned of the security breach.
“It’s wrong to be prejudging Mark Sullivan,” King insisted.
The White House this week quickly echoed King’s comments.
“The president has confidence in Director Sullivan,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Tuesday. “The director acted swiftly in response to this incident, and is overseeing an investigation that obviously needs to be conducted.”
Sullivan joined the Secret Service in 1983 and was named director in 2006 by then-President George W. Bush.
He has earned high marks from both Republicans and Democrats who have worked closely with him and the Service.
Douglas Band, counsel to former President Clinton, praised Sullivan as an “exemplary public servant who has done a remarkable job overseeing the Service.”
“I have worked with the men and women of the U.S. Secret Service every day for nearly two decades and they are among the most dedicated public servants and some of the finest Americans I have been lucky enough to meet,” Band said, adding that their work “protecting our nation and her citizens goes unnoticed by design each and every day.”
Congress will soon press ahead with an inquiry.
Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins on Tuesday released new details of the prostitution scandal. As the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, she received a personal briefing on the matter from Sullivan on Monday.
Collins stated that Sullivan is “rightly appalled” by the actions of the agents who reportedly invited prostitutes to their rooms. She added that Sullivan “is pursuing a vigorous internal investigation.”
Collins stated: “I am confident that [Sullivan] will fully investigate these troubling issues as well as pursue appropriate action against those involved should the allegations prove true.”
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