Tags: Homeland Security | Jason Chaffetz | secret service | Jeh Johnson | apology

Jeh Johnson Personally Apologizes to Chaffetz for Info Leak

Jeh Johnson Personally Apologizes to Chaffetz for Info Leak
(Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 03 April 2015 09:18 AM

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson apologized personally to House Oversight Committee Jason Chaffetz Thursday night and is demanding an investigation after reports emerged that Secret Service employees had circulated information showing Chaffetz was once rejected for an agency job.

"Secretary Johnson has called for an investigation and if the allegations in the report are true, those responsible should be held accountable," Homeland Security Department spokeswoman Marsha Catron said in a statement to The Hill on Friday. "Last night, Secretary Johnson also called Chairman Chaffetz to personally apologize to him for being put in the situation that he had to acknowledge a matter that should have been kept confidential."

The Utah Republican lawmaker told The Daily Beast that he was rejected "because I was too old. I'm not sure [of the reason]. That's more than a decade ago."

Chaffetz, whose committee oversees the Secret Service, made his confession about his failed job application as the Department of Homeland Security prepared to investigate complaints that staffers at the Secret Service headquarters had circulated embarrassing personnel information about him.

Johnson pushed for an internal investigation after Oversight Committee senior staff members referred the leaks to Department of Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth, reports The Hill. DHS whistleblowers complained to the committee that employees were circulating Chaffetz's private information to embarrass him.

"If these claims are true, I find them extremely problematic and disturbing," Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the Oversight panel, said.

"It continues to erode the credibility of one of our most important agencies," said Cummings, who is personally close to Chaffetz.

Chaffetz has been a strong critic against Secret Service leaders and has been leading a House investigation into the agency's many security lapses, including in March, when two allegedly intoxicated agents interrupted a bomb threat investigation, reports The Hill.

The Utah lawmaker told The Daily Beast that  that he had not previously disclosed his Secret Service application because it was years ago and he had forgotten about it. He said he "might have" applied to the FBI around the same time, the Beast reported.

"I haven't looked at that in more than a decade. It's not something that's entered my mind. Seriously, this was like 10 minutes, 12 years ago."

Chaffetz said he was motivated to fill in the application form, then about 50 pages long, because "it was just after 9/11."

The Secret Service requires that applicants must be aged 21 to 37 when they apply. Chaffetz said he had applied either in 2002 or in 2003 when he would have been 36.

Soon after applying, the Secret Service sent him a standard "BQA" rejection letter that said he'd been turned down because there were more qualified applicants, the Beast noted.

Staffers on his committee, meanwhile, have called on the Obama administration to investigate claims that Secret Service employees had circulated the unflattering private personnel information about Chaffetz's job application, The Washington Post reported.

The committee staff referred the matter to the Department of Homeland Security after receiving whistleblower complaints that Secret Service staff at agency headquarters had passed around the information.

Chaffetz said he found it "disconcerting to say the least" to discover that agency employees may have circulated his private information, according to the Post.

The information about Chaffetz's rejection began circulating at the Secret Service headquarters and in field offices shortly after a March 24 confrontational hearing in which Chaffetz grilled Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy about problems in the embattled agency, according to sources.

"I won't be intimidated, but I'm sure that's what it's intended to do," Chaffetz said.

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Politics
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson apologized personally to Rep. Jason Chaffetz Thursday night and is demanding an investigation after reports emerged that Secret Service employees had circulated information showing Chaffetz was once rejected for an agency job.
Jason Chaffetz, secret service, Jeh Johnson, apology
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2015-18-03
Friday, 03 April 2015 09:18 AM
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