A top Secret Service official urged that unflattering information in its files about a congressman critical of the agency should be made public, says the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General, reports the Washington Post. “Some information that he might find embarrassing needs to get out,” Assistant Director Edward Lowery wrote in an e-mail to a fellow director. Two days later, a news website reported that Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, had applied to be a Secret Service agent in 2003 and been rejected. That information was part of a personnel file stored in a restricted Secret Service database and required by law to be kept private.
Lowery had been promoted as part of an effort agency director Joseph Clancy said would bring reforms after a series of high-profile security lapses. Lowery denied that he directed anyone to leak the private information about Chaffetz and said his e-mail was simply a vent for his stress and anger. Senior staff members, the president's protective detail, the public affairs office, the office of investigations, and several field offices accessed Chaffetz's file and many acknowledged sharing it widely. “These agents work for an agency whose motto — 'Worthy of trust and confidence' — is engraved in marble in the lobby of their headquarters building,” said the inspector general. “Few could credibly argue that the agents involved in this episode lived up to this motto.” Chaffetz told the Post that, “Certain lines should never be crossed. The unauthorized access and distribution of my personal information crossed that line.”