From the paper that brought you several damning reports of Secret Service ineptitude, culminating in the resignation of director Julia Pierson, comes allegations that a presidential advance-team member was involved in the 2012 prostitution scandal in Colombia, but the White House covered up his involvement as members of the Secret Service and military were fired.
The administration says it looked into allegations that a White House volunteer took a prostitute to his room at the Hilton Cartagena Hotel, but concluded that they were unfounded. However, according to the Washington Post, David Nieland, the lead investigator of the prostitution scandal in the inspector general’s office of the Department of Homeland Security, told Senate staffers that his superiors directed him “to delay the report of the investigation until after the 2012 election” and “withhold and alter certain information in the report of investigation because it was potentially embarrassing to the administration.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest was already trying to spin the story shortly after it was published on Wednesday night. He pointed out that the allegation that a White House volunteer, who was not on staff, signed a prostitute into his hotel room prior to the president’s arrival was reported at the time.
According to the story Earnest linked to, “A senior administration official told The Associated Press the White House determined the [hotel] record was false and that the person in question did nothing wrong.”
Charles K. Edwards, who was then acting inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security, said at the time that his office did not investigate the White House worker because his report was supposed to focus on misconduct by DHS employees (i.e. Secret Service agents).
The Post’s report identifies the volunteer as Jonathan Dach, who was then a 25-year-old Yale University law student. He was tasked with coordinating drivers for the White House travel office, not ensuring the president’s safety. He denied hiring a prostitute or bringing anyone to his hotel room through his attorney. In a wonderfully ironic twist, he now works in the Obama administration full-time as a policy adviser in the Office on Global Women’s Issues at the State Department.
The White House has not explained how it determined that the record was false, but the Post says it “reviewed copies of the hotel logs for Dach’s stay, which showed that a woman was registered to Dach’s room at 12:02 a.m. April 4 and included an attached photocopy of a woman’s ID card.” Prostitution is legal in Cartagena, but the hotel requires prostitutes to show I.D. to prove they’re not underage.
David Nieland, the DHS investigator, claims his team found evidence that a witness saw Dach with a woman believed to be a prostitute, and the name of the woman in the hotel records matches that of a prostitute advertising online. Neiland and other investigators fought with their bosses when information about the White House volunteer was edited from their report, and they claim they were put on administrative leave as punishment. Their superiors say they were disciplined for unrelated reasons.
About two dozen Secret Service agents and members of the military were punished or fired in the fallout from the incident, and the Post reports, “the way the White House handled the scandal remains a sore point among rank-and-file members of the Secret Service more than two years later.” It’s unclear why we’re just hearing the details now. It’s almost like members of the Secret Service are suddenly eager to embarrass the White House.