Rep. King wants to know whether 'per diem' used to pay Colombia prostitutes

A top House Republican wants to know whether Secret Service employees involved in the prostitution scandal in Colombia used their taxpayer "per diem" to pay any of the women for their services.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y., posed the question along with dozens of others in a letter to Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan as part of his committee's escalating probe into the controversy. The questions covered everything from the potential security risks to internal training procedures.

On the issue of prostitute payment, King asked the director two questions -- how many agents paid the women, and how many "provided monetary remuneration to the female foreign nationals involved in the alleged incident in Colombia with the per diem provided by the U.S. government?"

It's unclear how much money the agents may have shelled out on the night in question, or whether any of that money came from the government pocketbook -- one of the women reportedly was paid $225 for the night. It's one of the many questions lawmakers have for the Obama administration as they launch their own investigations into the alleged misconduct.

"Every possible lead is being examined," King said Sunday.

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Asked about King's letter, Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told in an e-mail: "We'll answer all inquiries from Congress."

Six Secret Service employees so far have been ousted as a result of the agency's internal probe.

King, speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," said he expects that in the "near future, several other" members of the Secret Service will leave.

The Defense Department is also investigating the involvement of an estimated 12 service members.

King said Sunday that the administration needs to have a "zero-tolerance policy."

In his letter to Sullivan, he joined other lawmakers in asking whether any members of the White House staff were involved. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has dismissed these questions -- but on Sunday, Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., called on the White House to launch an internal probe to find out definitively whether any members of the White House advance team or others were involved.

"I'd say it's a reasonable question and that the White House ought to be conducting its own internal investigation of White House personnel who were in Cartagena, just to make sure that none of them were involved in this kind of inappropriate behavior," Lieberman said on "Fox News Sunday."

King, in his letter, also asked for the ages and nationalities of all of the female foreign nationals involved. He asked whether they were alone in the hotel rooms of Secret Service agents at any time, and whether the government has swept those rooms for eavesdropping devices.

King and other lawmakers have voiced concern that the alleged actions of the agents could have put U.S. security at risk.

Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod said Sunday that the allegations were disturbing, but that the misdeeds of a few individuals should not tarnish the overall work and reputation of the service.

Axelrod told CNN's "State of the Union" that he always felt the agents were willing to do anything to protect the president and the people around him. He called the agents' conduct in Colombia "really disappointing."

"I was surprised by it," he said, adding, "You know, people being what they are, you're never totally surprised. In any organization, things can go wrong." Axelrod worked at the White House before leaving last year to work full time in Obama's re-election campaign headquarters in Chicago.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.