Photo: AP

On Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security announced that 41 Secret Service employees have been disciplined in connection with a leak intended to embarrass the Republican congressman tasked with overseeing the agency.

Shortly after he began a probe into agency misconduct last year, Representative Jason Chaffetz’s unsuccessful Secret Service application was leaked to the press. A subsequent investigation found that dozens of Secret Service employees improperly accessed the file. From the Associated Press:

Employees accessed Chaffetz’s 2003 application for a Secret Service job starting 18 minutes after the start of a congressional hearing in March about the latest scandal involving drunken behavior by senior agents. Some forwarded the information to others. At least 45 employees viewed the file.

Chaffetz applied to join the Secret Service through a field office and was rejected and labeled “Better Qualified Applicant” for unknown reasons. Chaffetz said he never interviewed with the agency and does not know why his application was declined.

One week later, Assistant Director Ed Lowery suggested leaking embarrassing information about Chaffetz in retaliation for aggressive investigations by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee into a series of agency missteps and scandals, the report said. Days later, on April 2, the information about Chaffetz unsuccessfully applying for a job at the Secret Service was published by The Daily Beast, an Internet publication.

“Some information that he might find embarrassing needs to get out,” Assistant Director Lowery wrote in an email dated March 31. “Just to be fair.”

According to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, punishments for the 41 employees ranged from letters of reprimand to suspension without pay for 45 days. Additionally, an employee found to have leaked the application to The Washington Post resigned.

“The Secret Service is the finest protection agency in the world,” said Secretary Johnson. “Under the leadership of Director Clancy, I hope and expect the Secret Service has put sad episodes like this behind it.”