Two senior US Secret Service agents were “more likely than not” impaired by alcohol when they drove a government vehicle through a secure area at the White House earlier this year, a government watchdog concluded in a report released late on Wednesday.
Homeland security inspector General John Roth found that the agents spent about five hours at a bar during and after a retirement party for a colleague at the agency that protects the president and ran up a “significant” bar tab before driving to the White House on 4 March. Their tab included eight glasses of scotch, two vodka drinks, three beers and a glass of wine.
Marc Connolly, the deputy special agent in charge of the Presidential Protection Division, announced his retirement in advance of the report’s release. George Ogilvie, the assistant special agent in charge of the agency’s Washington field office, had been placed on administrative leave, the agency said.
Both men denied being drunk and told investigators they only had a few of the drinks over the course of the night. Ogilvie said some of the drinks on his tab, including five glasses of scotch, were given to other people at the bar, though he could not recall who received them.
Secret Service director Joseph Clancy said on Wednesday he was “disappointed and disturbed at the apparent lack of judgment described in this report. Behavior of the type described in the report is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
Roth’s report said Ogilvie was driving and Connolly was his passenger when Ogilvie drove his government-owned vehicle into the secured zone where on-duty Secret Service officials were investigating a suspicious package that had been left in the White House complex by a fleeing driver.
Ogilvie “had to do considerable maneuvering” as he drove slowly through the area and pushed a larger construction barrier about five feet (1.5 meters) with the bumper of his vehicle. Clancy, who was not told about the incident for several days, previously told lawmakers that the agents “nudged” the barrier as they drove into the White House complex.
Roth’s report said “this was no mere ‘bump’ but rather extended contact to shove the barrel out of the way”.
The report said the pair also unwittingly drove within inches of the suspicious item as they made their way through the secured area.
Roth said officers at the scene did not smell alcohol on either Ogilvie or Connolly but three officers thought something was “not right” about the pair. A watch commander was later told by an officer that “they may be drunk”.
No field sobriety tests were given that night and both men were allowed to drive their government vehicles home from the White House.
Roth concluded that both agents “displayed poor judgment and a lack of institutional awareness” and “more likely than not both Connolly and Ogilvie’s judgment was impaired by alcohol”.
Roth also found that “it would have been far preferable” for the watch commander on duty that night to question the men further about their sobriety or ordered a field sobriety test.