The Secret Service prostitution scandal is drawing attention to the yawning gender gap at the agency, with prominent female lawmakers suggesting Sunday that the alleged misconduct might never have happened if more women were on duty.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., said Director Mark Sullivan told her in a conversation Saturday night that just 11 percent of Secret Service agents are women.
"If there were more (female) agents on the ground, maybe we would not have had this, and I can't help but keep asking this question -- where are the women?"
The question is being raised following a report that Paula Reid, the recently promoted chief of the agency's Miami bureau, was the official who swooped in to expel 11 Secret Service agents from Colombia last week following allegations of wrongdoing. Reid, who is African-American, is one of the highest-ranking female employees in an agency dominated by men. The Washington Post first detailed her role.
Maloney, who said Sullivan "commended her leadership" in having "cleaned up the mess," called for the Service going forward to "diversify" with more minority and female agents.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, the ranking Republican on the Senate homeland security committee who has had tough questions for Sullivan in the wake of the scandal, also suggested the Service take a second look at the presence of women in the agency.
"I can't help but wonder if there'd been more women as part of that detail, if this ever would have happened," she said.
Collins and Maloney spoke Sunday on ABC's "This Week."
Six Secret Service agents, including two supervisors, have already been ousted from the agency as an internal probe moves into full swing. More firings could be on the horizon, as the Defense Department similarly investigates the alleged involvement of 12 service members.
One of the Service supervisors removed was identified as David Randall Chaney. On Chaney's Facebook account, which was made inaccessible on Friday, Chaney joked about his work with former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin while he was protecting her in 2008.
The AP published a photograph it took of Chaney working in Palin's protective detail in October 2008 during a campaign rally in Carson, Calif. "I was really checking her out, if you know what I mean?" Chaney wrote after a friend commented on the picture posted in January 2009 on Chaney's Facebook account.
Collins said Sunday that the alleged actions of the supervisors in Colombia are "particularly shocking and appalling." But she said "it defies belief that this is just an aberration."
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., chairman of the homeland security committee, raised similar concerns about the culture of the Secret Service in an interview on "Fox News Sunday."
He and Collins are launching their own investigation.