Report Finds No Evidence of Secret Service Sexual Misconduct, Some Remain Unconvinced
Well there goes next season's Scandal plotline. After a long investigation into potential sexual misconduct in the Secret Service, the Department of Homeland Security has finally released a report claiming that, actually, such misbehavior is the exception and not the norm. Worries about Secret Service sexual misconduct arose about a year and a half ago when a dozen agents became embroiled in a prostitution scandal during a presidential trip to Colombia. Despite agency officials' claims that the scandal was unusual for the Secret Service, and that such conduct was not symptomatic of a larger problem, Congress didn't believe them. The agency is definitively male-dominated and, well, secretive, lending credence to suspicions of a kind of boys' club fostering questionable sexual activities and alcohol overconsumption.
Although the investigation did reveal isolated incidents of misbehavior, it "did not find any evidence that USSS leadership has fostered an environment that tolerates inappropriate behavior." But just to be sure, investigators did recommend 14 new guidelines to further clarify what's acceptable. Eleven of them have already been implemented, including ethics training and consequences for violating the employee code of conduct.
Still, some legislators are not entirely convinced. Congress has recently been closely examining and trying to solve issues of sexual misconduct in the military, leaving some lawmakers still suspicious that the Secret Service does not have similar issues. One potential problem with the report, noted by both members of Congress and the Secret Service director herself, is that the investigation was conducted via anonymous surveys of Secret Service members. Some also point out that the DHS itself is under scrutiny (its inspector general recently stepped down) and should maybe not be trusted with determining the trustworthiness of other agencies.
However, the recent report does not completely let the agency off the hook. The Secret Service, it recommended, "should continue to monitor and address excessive alcohol consumption and personal conduct within its workforce." The agency has also started a working group to address professionalism and standards throughout its ranks.