Most of the Secret Service agents embroiled in a prostitution scandal brought women back to their Colombia hotel rooms before President Obama arrived in town for an international summit, Rep. Pete King said Saturday.
King said the raunchy rendezvous involved 11 agents and went sour when an agent refused to pay one of the women, who were presumed to be hookers.
“The agent said, ‘I don't owe you anything,’ but gave the woman some money,” said King (R-L.I.),the head of the House Homeland Security Committee, who was briefed on the matter. “I don't know how much, and it was settled right there.”
As it turned out, the agents’ troubles were just beginning. Local cops were called to the hotel in Cartagena and, because the matter involved foreigners, a report was written up and sent to the U.S. Embassy, King said.
Embassy officials in turn notified the Secret Service, which immediately launched an investigation.
At least one supervisor was among the agents involved, King said. He was not certain exactly how many women were involved.
The scandal — a black eye for the United States’ reputation abroad — was revealed Friday just hours before President Obama arrived in Cartagena.
The 11 agents were part of an advance team assigned to secure a local hotel before the summit began, yet their attention apparently turned to taking advantage of Colombia’s policy of legal prostitution.
Five American service members were also accused of misconduct stemming from the scandalous incident at the hotel, according to the U.S. military.
“They had arranged to have a bunch of prostitutes come by and one of the agents refused to pay a prostitute,” said author Ronald Kessler, one of the leading experts on the Secret Service. “Yes, doubly good judgment there.”
Kessler, who was briefed on the investigation by his sources within the agency, told the Daily News Saturday that the spurned hooker told police about the lack of payment.
The 11 agents were immediately recalled to Washington.
“Their careers are over,” said Kessler.
“Number one, it is against basic ethics to go to a prostitute,” he continued. “Number two, it is incredibly embarrassing to the White House.”
“And number three,” he continued. “It could leave them open to blackmail and a possible assassination attempt.”
Obama still has “full confidence” in the Secret Service, according to White House spokesman Jay Carney, who declared late Saturday that the incident “has been more of a distraction for the press” than the President.