Rep. Peter King refuses to meet Secret Service prostitute Dania Londono Suarez for investigation
Dania Londono Suarez sits during an interview at an undisclosed location in this May 4, 2012, frame grab taken from the Spanish radio station Cadena SER's website. / AP Photo/Cadena SER
(AP) WASHINGTON - The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee is refusing to meet with a Colombian prostitute involved in the U.S. Secret Service scandal which has become an election-year embarrassment for the Obama administration.
Rep. Peter King tells CNN that a meeting with the woman, identified by her lawyer as Dania Londono Suarez, would merely be "a publicity stunt."
The New York Republican's panel is conducting its own investigation of the incident in which several Secret Service agents consorted with prostitutes in advance of President Obama's arrival for a regional summit in Cartagena, Colombia, last month.
Asked in an interview Monday about reports the woman wants to meet with him, King replies, "There's been enough cheap publicity." He says, "I'm not going to give her another forum."
A dozen employees have been implicated since the April 12 argument became public. Eight people, including two supervisors, have lost their jobs. The agency is moving to permanently revoke the security clearance for one other employee, and three others have been cleared of serious wrongdoing. Twelve military personnel have also been implicated.
On Thursday, nearly four weeks after the scandal erupted, U.S. government investigators interviewed Londono.
She voluntarily met with investigators at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, agency spokesman Edwin Donovan said. He said the Secret Service investigation was nearly complete. More than 200 people, including most of the women involved, have been interviewed in the United States and Colombia.
Londono mysteriously disappeared days after the incident and couldn't be reached by investigators.
In a radio and television interview from Madrid on May 4, Londono said she works as a prostitute in Colombia, catering to foreigners. She said after leaving Colombia, she spent some time in Dubai before going to Madrid.
Londono said she met a Secret Service employee at a club in Cartagena last month and escorted him back to his hotel after a night of heavy drinking.
"I told him it would be $800 and he said that was fine and not a problem," Londono said in Spanish. But the next morning the officer refused to pay, offering her only about $30 for a taxi. Londono said she was insulted and tried for several hours to get paid, eventually asking a local police officer at the hotel for help.
She said the argument ended when other Secret Service officers at the Hotel Caribe paid her about $250.
Prostitution is legal in Colombia.
Londono left Colombia a few days after the incident and she said last week she said he had not been contacted by the Secret Service or anyone from the U.S. government. She described the officers involved as "fools" and said the whole situation could have been avoided if the man she spent the night with had just paid her.
"There wouldn't have been a problem if he had paid me money," Londono said.
Since the incident in Colombia, there have been several media reports of similar Secret Service misconduct in the past, including allegations that officers hired strippers and prostitutes during a presidential trip to El Salvador last year.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a Senate panel last month that there have been no reports of such misconduct filed with the agency's Office of Professional Responsibility in the last 2 1/2 years. She later said there was no evidence to corroborate the allegations from El Salvador.
Donovan declined to discuss the reports from El Salvador on Thursday, but he has said that any credible reports of misconduct would be investigated.
Since the scandal emerged, Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan has issued new conduct rules for officers and agents traveling abroad. In some cases, chaperones will be sent on trips, and employees will be barred from visiting disreputable establishments, drinking heavily or within 10 hours of a shift. The new rules also bar employees from bringing foreigners to their hotel rooms.
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