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White House volunteer implicated in Colombian prostitute scandal report

September 21, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Investigating the prostitution scandal at the Secret Service, the Homeland Security Department's inspector general uncovered a hotel record suggesting a member of President Barack Obama's team might have been involved, according to a summary of the case submitted to Congress. A senior administration official told The Associated Press the White House determined the record was false and that the person in question did nothing wrong.

The Obama administration describes the team member as a volunteer, not a staff member.

The acting inspector general, Charles K. Edwards, said the employee- described by the administration as a volunteer, not a staff member - "may have had contact with foreign nationals" and "may have been affiliated with the White House advance operation," according to a letter to lawmakers obtained by the AP. Edwards cited as evidence a hotel registry obtained by his investigators.

Edwards acknowledged that his investigators did not pursue information about the activities of the White House worker, who was not identified, or the actions of another U.S. military employee, because his report was intended to focus solely on employees at the Homeland Security Department. Edwards said his office "did not conduct any additional investigation into this finding and has made no determination related to these individuals because they are not DHS personnel."

The senior administration official told the AP that the hotel record Edwards cited in his letter to Congress was incorrect, and the person affiliated with the White House team did nothing improper.

The inspector general's report found that while Secret Service employees found to be involved "engaged in misconduct," the president's security was never at risk.

The team member was working as a volunteer as part of the White House advance team that was setting up a presidential trip to Cartagena, Colombia in April. The person was not named.

Thirteen Secret Service employees caused a scandal in April when a hallway argument with one employee and a prostitute led to the discovery that the employees had engaged in relations with prostitutes at the hotel where Obama was to stay during his upcoming trip. Military personnel were also implicated.

Six of the women, including a prostitute who has identified herself as Dania Suarez, were paid, according to the case summary. Five women asked for payment but didn't receive any cash and three other women didn't ask for payment.

Eight of the Secret Service employees have been forced out of the agency, three were cleared of serious misconduct and at least two employees are fighting to get their jobs back. Eleven military personnel were also implicated. Nine service members are facing administrative discipline. The status of the two others is unclear.

A twelfth member of the military, who was assigned to the White House Communications Agency, a military unit that provides secure communications for the president, was also implicated. His status remains unclear.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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