Report: Secret Service Agents Assigned To Guard Home Of Former Director’s Assistant

610px-US-SecretService-StarLogo.svgThere is a highly troubling report out of Washington that former Secret Service director Mark Sullivan pulled a special team of secret service agents called the Prowler Surveillance team to protect his assistant, Lisa Chopey, after she said that a neighbor was harassing her. Such an assignment is highly questionable in the use of public resources for such matters. If there was a criminal threat, it should have been handled by the local authorities since it was not related to the service.

You may recall that Sullivan resigned after the scandal involving members of the presidential protection team hiring prostitutes ahead of a trip by President Barack Obama to Colombia in 2012. He resigned in 2013.

In this case, Sullivan reportedly had agents sent to a rural area outside La Plata, Md. in what was known as Operation Moonlight. That involved two agents monitoring the home day and night from June 30 through July before slowly tapering off in August. To make matters worse, supervisors reportedly were concerned that the assignments were increasing the security risk to the presidential compound where they normally patrol. Other reports say that there was no such risk because the agents were pulled from a different area.

Sullivan said that it was a supervisor who approved the monitoring without his knowledge and that the monitoring was relatively brief. However, whoever had knowledge or ordered the assignment, this seems a clear misuse of government resources and authority.

Yet, Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said that the work only lasted a few days over the Fourth of July weekend and was part of the agency’s standard response to potential threats to an employee. Yet, any threat was clearly not related to Chopey’s work at the agency and she was not an actual field agent. It was a neighbor to neighbor dispute — a local police matter. Indeed, it is not clear how this concern was first raised to the Secret Service and whether local police were ever notified.

17 thoughts on “Report: Secret Service Agents Assigned To Guard Home Of Former Director’s Assistant”

  1. Mark Sullivan the not so secret service agent hit the waste, fraud and abuse trifecta.

  2. In China, corruption and betrayal of the public trust is a capital offense.

    ENTITLEMENT, beginning at the level of front-line police and extending to the highest levels of government throughout this country, exists and persists. Firemen place decals on rear car windows to obtain special exemption from traffic citations. The entitlement phenomenon is well known by all. It is ignored and allowed.

    Certain city managers take in $450K+ for an office with virtually no duties beyond the ceremonial because they can manipulate local elections and they have an entitlement relationship with local law enforcement; DA to Police Chief. They set the pay for one striking group, such as teachers, then provide “comparable pay” for everyone else. Compensation based on ENTITLEMENT not merit.

    Additionally, with lines of applicants miles and miles long, there is absolutely no rationale for paying ridiculously high wages to teach fork lift drivers in public school, spray water from a hose on a fire or drive a car, shoot a bad guy or write a traffic ticket – and yet we do! Prima donnas one and all.

    Unintended consequences of the collectivist, socialist welfare state mentality?

    I’ll bet you Mr. Market would sort it all out.

    Privatization (comprehensively, from the education industry to those of charity and healthcare) and prosecution would go a long way toward resolution.

    Just a brief, objective, perspective. Thank you.

    1. John – you have never been a manager have you? I have an I worked my butt off. Didn’t make 450k, but I earned it. Not sure where you are living, but where I live it is pretty decentralized. The cities or towns do not run the schools. Elected school boards run the schools and hire a superintendent to run the schools. There are strict lines of communication that are drawn between the jobs.

  3. I guess this money well spent. At least it was with the US borders.

  4. In representing a local public entity, we do sometimes go in to obtain workplace violence restraining orders that cover the employee, employee’s house and children, etc. as well as the workplace and co-workers. However, first a determination must be made that there is a real possibility of violence erupting at the workplace. Especially in connection with domestic partners, it is not uncommon for someone to appear at the workplace or blame co-workers. Even then, the additional security measures relate to the workplace, though we do assist the employee identify and make contact with other services that may help. Unless they had some concern about force being used to obtain some confidential information related to security, which doesn’t seem likely, I don’t get the home monitoring.

  5. Darren:

    Where does it say in the federal benefits package that if a government employees has a problem with a neighbor, that federal law enforcement will come and help (for free)?

    If an employee wishes to help a fellow employee on his off hours, great, but why should the federal taxpayer shell out for extra service that should be provided locally?

    I think that government employees are far too free with our tax dollars.

  6. This is a better use of resources than bonking prostitutes. However, as the great Hillary Clinton would say ‘What difference does it make now’?

  7. So how much did this cost me. I think it is time we found a way to take the money back out of her paycheck. I bet she would refuse to pay. By the way, I find my neighbors dog objectionable, who do I call for personal security?

  8. “I know some will object to this, but in general if you have a real problem person threatening a law enforcement officer’s home or family, a few cars outside the officer’s house is a big deterrance and shows the department is serious.”

    I wish us plebes could get that kind of attention and response from law enforcement.

  9. Exceptional imaginations (“the agency’s standard response to potential threats”).

    Some people should have been artists instead of policy makers.

  10. I think this operation went on too long but I don’t have a problem with, in general, an agency using assets to protect one of its employees. In fact, it is more common than most realize to do this.

    If this happened in a rural area, it is doubtful the local sheriff’s office has the resources to sit on a house and watch it for a while. The employee’s agency typically does this or hires another agency to assist with the overtime.

    It becomes a bit blurred when the employee is involved in a dispute that is not duty related.

    I know some will object to this, but in general if you have a real problem person threatening a law enforcement officer’s home or family, a few cars outside the officer’s house is a big deterrance and shows the department is serious.

  11. Does anyone else who has read the Post article get the feeling there is more to this story and that the Post ran with what they had to shake more information out of the trees?
    As I read the Post this morning, my thought was that it should have been a local police matter. Thanks for clarifying, Professor Turley.

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