Despite a number of recent high-profile Secret Service failures—followed by a bipartisan recommendation to bring in a new leader from outside the organization—President Obama has named acting agency director Joseph Clancy, a 27-year Secret Service veteran, as its permanent head.
Clancy, who was managing Obama’s personal detail when he retired in 2011, returned to the Secret Service in 2014 to take over on an interim basis following the departure of director Julia Pierson. Pierson herself came on as a replacement for Mark Sullivan, who resigned after a 2012 scandal involving agents and Colombian prostitutes. But her poor handling of two White House security breaches led to her resignation and to the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee’s demand for a housecleaning at the top. When Pierson’s deputy resigned last week, committee chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) released a statement supporting the move and reinforcing their “shared conviction that the Secret Service needs to turn the page with respect to its senior leadership.” An independent and bipartisan panel appointed by Homeland Security director Jeh Johnson also recommended a leader from “outside the Service.”
Rep. Chaffetz responded quickly and disapprovingly to Clancy’s elevation, asserting in a statement that the choice failed to address systemic problems. Said Chaffetz: “The panel made it crystal clear that only a director from outside the agency would meet the needs of the agency today–someone with a fresh perspective, free from allegiances and without ties to what has consistently been described as a ‘good old boys’ network.’” Cummings, it appears, is toeing the party line for now, and said in a statement that Clancy’s “decisive leadership” as interim leader has “already resulted in major changes” at the Service.