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SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, says allegations of a drunken crash by two Secret Service agents is just the latest incident stemming from "a deep-seated cultural problem" in the organization.
Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said in an interview with KSL and NBC's "TODAY" show that he has received reports about the March 4 accident from four whistleblowers.
The interview will air on "TODAY" Thursday morning.
The two Secret Service agents — identified in reports as a lead agent in President Barack Obama's security detail and another senior Secret Service official — are accused of crashing a government vehicle into security barricades outside the White House as they left a party.
The incident is being investigated by the Department of Homeland Security, and the two agents have been reassigned to nonsupervisory, nonoperational positions.
Chaffetz said Wednesday it is troubling that one of the individuals being investigated is "regularly within arm's length of the president."
Week in and week out, we keep hearing these stories, and this should never, ever, happen — ever. This is the safety and security of the president of the United States. This is supposed to be our elite service, and they cannot ever make these kinds of mistakes.
–Rep. Jason Chaffetz
"Week in and week out, we keep hearing these stories, and this should never, ever, happen — ever. This is the safety and security of the president of the United States," he said. "This is supposed to be our elite service, and they cannot ever make these kinds of mistakes."
One of the questions being investigated, Chaffetz said, is whether the agents were intoxicated, whether a sobriety test was ordered by those who responded to the accident, and if so whether that test was administered.
"If anyone requested that and it did not happen, I've got a big problem with that," he said. "If somebody was indeed suspected of being under the influence, that should have been dealt with right there on the spot, and I'm concerned that it wasn't."
Chaffetz, who has been loudly critical of apparent lapses and misconduct in the ranks of the Secret Service, reiterated Wednesday that healing the troubled agency will require more than a few simple personnel changes. How this incident is handled, he said, will serve as a test for the service's new director, Joseph Clancy.
"We're going to find out real quick what sort of discipline is (Clancy) going to institute there," Chaffetz said. "If this is true, he had better deal with it swiftly. This is totally unacceptable."