Friday, April 20, 2012
Winners and Losers of Week 1, Secret Service Scandal
Winner: Spirit Airlines, which spun up an advertising gimmick based on the scandal ("upfront payment is required").
Loser: The Secret Service GS-14 supervisory agent who resigned abruptly this week. Since the agent is married, 48 years old, and reportedly had almost twenty years in, I'm guessing that he wasn't quite ready yet, financially speaking, to retire. With all the notoriety surrounding him, his post-retirement opportunities in the private security industry might be disappointing. It doesn't help that he posted lots of indiscreet photos of himself - at a boozy high school reunion, with an Egyptian belly dancer, and "checking out" Sarah Palin while on her protective detail in 2008 - on his Facebook account.
Winner: The 24-year old Colombian woman who complained to police when the Secret Service agent who had picked her up the night before didn't seem to understand that he owned her $800 in the morning. She was interviewed by the New York Times this week where she stressed that her high price tag makes her one of the classier ladies that can be hired for sexual services in Cartagena. ("The price alone, she said, indicates she is an escort, not a prostitute. “You have higher rank” ... “It’s like when you buy a fine rum or a BlackBerry or an iPhone. They have a different price.”) It's a commercial hierarchy, with escorts like her at the top, followed by the prostitutes who work out of the nicer clubs, followed by the ones who work out of sleazy bars, and so on down the chain to the street-walkers and the underage runaways. She is no doubt already fielding offers for an 'as told to' book and a TV movie deal. Classy ones, naturally.
Loser: The other Secret Service GS-14 supervisory agent who got the ax this week. That one is still employed for the moment, and his lawyer says he will take full advantage of the bureaucratic process to fight his dismissal for cause. He is reported to be divorced, and his ex-wife is also a Secret Service agent.
Winner, sort of: The one Secret Service agent who is reported to have been cleared of serious charges, and faces only lesser administrative punishment.
Losers: The four non-senior Secret Service agents who have resigned as of today, ending their careers prematurely.
Likely future losers include the remaining five agents, who are all under investigation by the Secret Service's Office of Professional Responsibility, plus the eleven military service members who have been returned to their commands and are facing disciplinary procedures and possible criminal charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
We might as well count Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan among the losers, since he is likely to come out of this with his, and his agency's, reputation diminished.
As the weeks go by, I think winners will be harder and harder to come by in this kerfuffle.