The Secret Service has said it is investigating explosive new allegations of misconduct in El Salvador,broadening a sex scandal that a US lawmaker said may lead to changes in how agents do their work abroad.
A CBS broadcast affiliate in Seattle aired new accusations emerging from the Central American nation,where members of a presidential advance team one year ago reportedly were seen by a government subcontractor paying for sex at a strip club and taking escorts back to their hotel rooms.
They are the latest claims to hit the presidential protection force still reeling from a Colombia sex scandal that saw eight agents dismissed,and follow revelations that three US Marines and a State Department employee were punished for involvement with a prostitute in Brazil.
“Right now they have begun to question supervisors that were on the ground,personnel attached to the embassy,” Representative Sheila Jackson Lee told CNN after a briefing with under-fire Secret Service director Mark Sullivan.
“They have not completed an investigation,but they really need more facts and they really are seeking for anyone who would come forward.”
The Secret Service sent a memo to members of Congress yesterday saying it was looking into the allegations,and any credible information “will be followed up on in an appropriate manner,” a congressional source said.
KIRO 7 Eyewitness News quoted a subcontractor who worked “extensively” with the Secret Service advance team and some military specialists,and spent time with them at a popular San Salvador strip club days before President Barack Obama’s trip to the country in March 2011.
“Our witness tells us he repeatedly saw the Secret Service agents exchange money for sexual favors within the club,and on at least two occasions,those agents took escorts back to their hotel rooms,” Chris Halsne,the investigative reporter who broke the story,said on CBS.
He also said the club owner verified that Secret Service agents had been there that week.
The White House was mum on the allegations.
“I simply don’t have anything for you on that from here,” Obama spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.
Asked whether the president previously knew of the claims,he said: “I don’t know that any of us were aware of it until we read newspaper reports.”