Published December 20, 2015
While government investigators interviewed hundreds of personnel to get to the bottom of the Secret Service prostitution scandal in Colombia in 2012, congressional Republicans suggest the White House barely lifted a finger to investigate similar allegations involving one of their own.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, in an interview with Fox News on Thursday, questioned how seriously the White House handled claims that a member of their team may have been “intimately involved with a prostitute.”
He said he’s concerned, further, about a “cover-up.”
But even as far back as November 2012, in a letter obtained by FoxNews.com, another top Republican pointedly accused the White House of conducting a flimsy review into the allegations.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., charged at the time that documents reviewed by his committee staff showed the White House review was “woefully inadequate.”
Issa, in his Nov. 2, 2012, letter to then-White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, claimed the Secret Service director had given Ruemmler records from the Hotel Hilton Cartagena that “suggested” someone on the White House advance team signed in a 28-year-old female guest. Issa said documents show the guest entered at 12:02 a.m. and left at 9:46 a.m. (This claim appears to align with details reported late Wednesday by The Washington Post, which identified the advance team “volunteer” as Jonathan Dach, then 25, whose father Leslie is a consistent Democratic donor.)
But according to Issa, “the initial White House review” of this incident – before that information was turned over -- “appears to have consisted of talking to one person,” the advance team member in question, who was asked whether he had engaged a prostitute.
“Like several Secret Service agents who subsequently failed polygraph tests, the White House staff denied that he had,” Issa wrote.
But even after then-Director Mark Sullivan handed over the additional details, Issa said the White House claimed to have simply “re-interviewed the staff member” and interviewed several colleagues, “who vouched for his character.”
By contrast, the Secret Service interviewed “dozens of hotel staff and female foreign nationals,” while the DHS inspector general’s team interviewed 251 Secret Service personnel. The investigation included a review of hotel records, polygraphs and even drug tests, Issa wrote.
But Issa claimed there is, by contrast, “no indication” that Ruemmler’s office interviewed hotel staff or the woman said to be involved.
The letter from Issa was sent after he initially questioned the internal review on Oct. 11, 2012. In that letter, he noted that then-White House Press Secretary Jay Carney had claimed in April 2012 "there have been no specific, credible allegations of misconduct" by a White House team member, and their review likewise produced "no indication" of any misconduct.
Ruemmler eventually wrote back to Issa, on Nov. 9, 2012, asserting the same: “We did not identify any inappropriate behavior on the part of the White House advance team.” Even after learning additional information, she wrote, “our conclusion did not change.”
Issa said the individual in question had done advance work for President Obama on “eight prior official overseas trips,” including in Tokyo, Brazil and Baghdad. He said correspondence attached to his request for a passport reflected him as “White House staff with the Executive Office of the President.”
The White House says he was a volunteer. The Post reports he was not paid a salary but was paid a per diem and reimbursed for expenses.
White House visitor logs for 2012, meanwhile, recorded several visits to the White House by people named Jonathan Dach and Leslie Dach in 2012. The records show a Jonathan Dach visited the White House in March 2012 – the records say he was visiting “POTUS,” which is short for president of the United States.
The records show that shortly after the Colombia controversy in April 2012, a Leslie Dach visited on April 24 for a meeting with Alan Krueger, then chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.
The records also reflect a June 3, 2012 visit by Jonathan, Leslie and Elizabeth Dach. (Eliza Dach is apparently the name of Leslie Dach’s daughter.) Other key details about that visit, though, were not entered into the official White House log.
Leslie Dach’s name shows up in the logs for other visits during the rest of the year.
After The Washington Post reported that senior White House aides had information about these allegations and never thoroughly investigated them, the White House stuck by its claims.
"As was reported more than two years ago, the White House conducted an internal review that did not identify any inappropriate behavior on the part of the White House advance team," spokesman Eric Schultz said.
Schultz said the White House counsel asked the Secret Service for information at the time, which turned up a hotel log. But the White House previously has claimed the volunteer was wrongly implicated based on inaccurate hotel records.
Questioned by reporters on Air Force One, Schultz reiterated Thursday afternoon that the White House reviewed the evidence and stands by the conclusion of that inquiry. He said it was a careful review, and noted that a Secret Service agent similarly implicated through a hotel log was later exonerated.
Richard Sauber, an attorney representing Jonathan Dach, also denied the allegations in a statement to Fox News and said his client was not even standing with the woman in question when she presumably put down her information in the hotel log. He said his client did not sign the paper with the woman's information on it.
"The allegations about any inappropriate conduct by Jonathan Dach in Cartagena are utterly and completely false. Anyone who knows Jonathan knows how ludicrous these allegations are," Sauber said.
"The Post bases its allegations almost exclusively on a hotel log with the name of a prostitute and a room number. Yet neither Jonathan Dach's name nor his signature appears on the hotel log or any piece of paper with a foreign national," he said.
Chaffetz, in an Oct. 3 letter to White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, has asked for “all documents” related to the White House counsel review.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., also sent a letter on Thursday to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson requesting the same documents, saying he’s “concerned” the administration did not “properly investigate or discipline its own staff.”
FoxNews.com’s Jana Winter and Judson Berger, and Fox News’ Catherine Herridge, Kelly Chernenkoff and Lesa Jansen contributed to this report.