Julia Pierson’s tenure as the first female director of the U.S. Secret Service ended abruptly Wednesday, under a cloud of embarrassment for the once-proud agency.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the woman tasked with overseeing presidential security did not even have a chance to speak face-to-face with her boss before handing in her resignation.
Instead, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the president called her and “express[ed] his appreciation for her service to the agency and to the country.”
But Pierson isn’t the first Obama administration official to be forced out of office after a high-profile scandal. In his first term, President Obama accepted General Stanley McChrystal’s resignation after he and his staff gave ill-advised comments to a Rolling Stone reporter that disparaged the vice president, among other unprofessional soundbites. McChrystal had been commander of the U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan at the time and was replaced by General David Petraeus, who would go on to be Obama’s CIA director.
Related Resources from B2C
» Free Webcast: Hooked: How to Build Habit Forming Products
But immediately following Obama’s re-election in 2012, Petraeus found himself on the hot seat as well when an extramarital affair came to light. He was out of his director’s chair within days.
Of course, the latest Secret Service failings haven’t been the only cases during Obama’s time at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. In 2009, Tareq and Michaele Salahi made it through a security checkpoint at the White House during President Obama’s first state dinner. As the Washington Post reported recently, the Secret Service was also not aware for days that a gunman had shot several bullets at the White House in 2011.
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) September 29, 2014
And in 2012, a prostitution scandal cost the jobs of several members of the Secret Service along with the agency’s director at the time, Mark Sullivan. That incident led to the appointment of Julia Pierson and a mandate to reform the agency.
Earlier this year, three agents in the presidential detail were caught having a bit too much fun while on duty in Amsterdam.
Three Secret Service agents in detail protecting Obama in Amsterdam sent home after night of drinking, sources say http://t.co/DTQhRPR7L2
— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 26, 2014
Then, of course there were the recent incidents involving an Iraq war veteran who was deep inside the White House before being stopped, and the security contractor with a criminal record who was somehow allowed in an elevator with the president while armed.
Speaking to Bloomberg News following her resignation Wednesday, Pierson said that she believed stepping aside is “in the best interest of the Secret Service and the American public.”
But she also added that “it’s painful to leave as the agency is reeling from a significant security breach.”
The Secret Service, military, and CIA aren’t the only agencies that have seen scandals force out top officials during the Obama presidency. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki offered his resignation after public revelations of embarrassingly long wait times at VA hospitals this past spring.
Eric Shinseki resigned as Veterans Affairs chief amid “systemic” problems in its hospital system http://t.co/2NmrmZfr4C
— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 31, 2014
And last year, Obama demanded – and received – the resignation of Internal Revenue Service acting commissioner Steven Miller following reports that the IRS had unfairly targeted conservative organizations.
While each of these cases have varied in the degree of White House support for the embattled incumbent, Wednesday’s resignation was met with shows of respect for the outgoing director.
During her congressional hearing on Tuesday, Pierson “took responsibility for the shortcomings of the agency that she led and she took responsibility for fixing them,” Earnest, the White House spokesman, told reporters. “That quite simply is a testament to her professionalism and her character.”
But Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who chairs the House Oversight Committee, said that the long-term problems are institutional and “her resignation certainly does not resolve them.”