The Secret Service failed to complete security clearances for newly hired agents posted in sensitive positions, the agency confirmed on Wednesday.
Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy confirmed the issue to Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who had been investigating the problem based on a tip he had received. The story was first reported by The Washington Post.
The Homeland Security Department component has gone on a hiring spree in recent months to fill vacancies that an independent panel said would help fix some of the systemic problems at the agency. The panel recommended hiring 285 employees, calling that figure a “down payment” on what might ultimately be needed.
Several dozen of the new hires had started but not yet completed the security clearance process when they were assigned to sensitive posts -- including more than two dozen at the White House, the Post reported.
A Secret Service spokeswoman said the agency was working quickly to complete the clearances, and the number of employees without them had already been reduced to 10. He added all of the outstanding clearances would be finished this week after Clancy put “additional administrative staff” on the job.
The spokeswoman added that prior to the postings, the agents underwent seven months of training and prior to that, they underwent a suitability review that included credit history, criminal history checks and a preliminary counterintelligence review.
Another Secret Service scandal unveiled on Wednesday, first reported by the National Enquirer, exposed an agent on Michelle Obama’s detail who flirted with an individual while on duty protecting the first lady. He received the individual’s phone number and later sent her lewd text messages. The agent has been placed on administrative leave.