Edward Lowery, assistant director of the Secret Service, suggested leaking the application file of a congressman who was overseeing a critical review of the department's past security breaches and agent misconduct.
"Some information that he might find embarrassing needs to get out. Just to be fair," Lowery wrote in a March 31 email to a colleague, referencing the 2003 application of Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.
The Washington Post reported
that the underhanded suggestion was brought to light by a new report from Department of Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth released Wednesday.
After Chaffetz's application was ultimately declined by the Secret Service, his personnel file was stored in restricted Secret Service database that is required by law to be kept private.
The inspector general ultimately found that 45 agency employees ultimately accessed Chaffetz's file, potentially opening them up to criminal charges.
Only four of the 45 had "an arguable legitimate need" to access the files, wrote the IG.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson issued an apology to the congressman upon the release of the report, and said Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy would "take appropriate action to hold accountable those who violated any laws or the policies of this department," reported USA Today
"Certain lines should never be crossed,'' said Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
"The unauthorized access and distribution of my personal information crossed that line. It was a tactic designed to intimidate and embarrass me and frankly, it is intimidating. It's scary to think about all the possible dangers in having your personal information exposed.''
According to the IG, "He [Lowery] described the [emailed] statement as reflecting his stress and his anger. The recipient of the email [Assistant Faron Paramore] stated that he never responded to the email and did not act on it."
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