White House agency under investigation in prostitution scandal

Investigators are looking into the role of an official in the office that handles the president's secure communications.

Jae C. Hong/AP

This story has been updated to include a response from the White House.

The investigation into the prostitution scandal involving Secret Service personnel in Cartagena, Colombia, has broadened to include the White House Communications Agency, Nextgov has learned.

Laura Williams, a spokeswoman for the Defense Information Systems Agency, which manages the White House office that provides the president with secure communications, confirmed that one individual from WHCA is under investigation, but could not provide any more details at this time.

A dozen Secret Service agents and 11 military personnel are under investigation in the scandal, which erupted after a night of carousing in Cartagena, Colombia, on April 11. The personnel were members of an advance team preparing for President Obama's arrival at a regional summit April 13. Six Secret Service employees have been fired or resigned thus far in the ongoing probe.

On Friday, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a 1>letter to Mark Sullivan, director of the Secret Service, and Charles Edwards, acting inspector general of the Homeland Security Department, asking if they also were looking into the possibility that staff from the White House Communications Agency and White House Office of Advance may have been involved in the scandal.

WHCA has a staff of approximately 1,000 people drawn from all four services. As a DISA subagency, it comes under operational control of the White House Military Office , which also oversees the Presidential Airlift Group, White House Medical Unit, Camp David, Marine Helicopter Squadron One, Presidential Food Service and the White House Transportation Agency.

Commanded by Army Col. Clinton Bigger , WHCA is headquartered at the Naval Support Facility in the Anacostia section of Washington, and has a 2012 operations budget of $127.9 million and a procurement budget of $53.1 million.

Bernie Skoch, a retired Air Force brigadier general and defense consultant who did a tour at DISA, said, "WHCA staff are held to a higher standard than members in many line units of the military, commensurate with the critical nature of their mission. But like any unit, there are from time to time unfortunate incidents, and dealing with those is the responsibility of the commander."

WHCA staff require a higher level of security clearance than many military members, Skoch said, noting that "people who show tendencies toward the behavior shown in Colombia should be eliminated in screening . . . Anyone involved in an incident like what happened in Colombia would have their security clearance and access to critical missions suspended immediately, pending investigation and adjudication."

White House press secretary Jay Carney declined to discuss the potential involvement of WHCA personnel in the prostitution scandal at a press briefing Monday afternoon, deferring questions to the Defense Department, which is conducting a separate investigation.

Carney fielded numerous and often contentious questions during the 50 minute briefing about the role of the White House advance team in Colombia -- questions Grassley raised in his letter. Carney said the White House counsel conducted an investigation into the activities of the Colombia advance team over the weekend and determined "there was no indication of misconduct" by that team.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.