A Drug Enforcement Administration chief granted a security clearance to a special agent who had an affair with a convicted criminal in DEA offices and in his official vehicle, a government watchdog reported Thursday.
Then DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart looked the other way when her subordinate reinstated the unnamed special agent’s security clearance, even though she was aware of his “serious misconduct,” according to the Department of Justice’s Inspector General (IG).
“We concluded that Leonhart acquiesced to [Acting Chief Inspector Chuck Whaley’s] flawed decision to intervene in the security clearance process, and therefore she shares responsibility for it,” the report said.
The report said the special agent admitted in 2013 that he:
– “Carried on an extramarital affair with a woman who was a convicted criminal;”
– “Allowed her after-hours access to a DEA office, including a drug evidence room;”
– “Allowed her to listen to recorded telephone calls of subjects of DEA investigations;” and
– “Had sex with her on numerous occasions in the DEA office and his DEA vehicle.”
The DEA Office of Professional Responsibility caught the misconduct but didn’t report their findings to the proper office. As a result, the agent’s security clearance wasn’t suspended until March 24, 2015.
Whaley ordered the agent’s clearance be reinstated just three days later, claiming his misconduct “did not raise national security issues because it did not involve a lack of candor, foreign nationals, or a foreign country,” the report said. Leonhart was aware of the decision but did nothing.
Leonhart’s lack of action, even though she and Whaley had been in discussion with the IG regarding a then-forthcoming report that said sexual misconduct, exposed “DEA employees to coercion, extortion, and blackmail, all of which create security risks.” That report was made public March 26, 2015, just two days after the agent’s clearance was suspended and one day before Whaley ordered its reinstatement.
Leonhart, who had led the agency since 2007, resigned just a few months later after facing serious bipartisan criticism following reports that DEA agents engaged in sex parties with local prostitutes in Colombia.
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