ICE Agent Sues for Records Involving Fellow Agent & Prostitute
January 9, 2017 (Fault Lines) — The plaintiff in this case, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (or “ICE”) Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”) Supervisory Special Agent (referred to as “SA” in the trenches) Jason Mount, is suing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (a.k.a “DHS”) in D.C.’s federal court for records purportedly held by DHS’s Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”). So far this lawsuit is governmental acronyms galore.
And what records does Mount seek, and DHS seeks to keep from the public eye? From the Compaint:
All DHS OIG records and/or reports from January 1, 2002 through November 17, 2012 that contain information regarding an allegation that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, Supervisory Special Agent Peter Edge lost his official credentials to a prostitute and the credentials had to be retrieved by local police. (My emphasis.)
Before going into some background (and there’s plenty), it pays to take a pause and have a good laugh at the government’s expense (literally, this time). If the allegations are true, it means that a top ICE agent cavorted with a prostitute, lost his credentials during his date, and then summoned the local police to help him find his papers. And the local constables complied with this John’s the agent’s his request to track down the lady of the night so they could return the credentials to their rightful owner.
Forget the fact that prostitution laws punish both the sex workers and their clients,* and that the local police chose to focus on getting this SA’s papers rather than investigating whether an illicit act took place. Is no man above the law, or what? A federal employee, and his state counterpart, chased down a prostitute while on government dime and time. It’s not the most scandalous story involving a federal agency delving into prostitution, or immigration border officials taking sex as a bribe for allowing people to enter the country illegally, but it’s still something to be frowned upon.
What did the initial 911 phone call sound like? “Um, officer. Yes, hi. I was hanging out with a prostitute, nothing happened, but all of the sudden I lost my federal agent credentials and I think she took them. I need those back ASAP, and I need your assistance . . . She’s tall, brunette, and voluptuous, and I last “saw” her at room 212 at the Howard Johnson right off the interstate. Help!” After that, the local officer likely replied “I’m on it, boss,” hopped to and helped the vaunted federal agent avoid grave embarrassment at the field office and (most importantly?) at home.
Turns out that Mount, who handles human trafficking investigations at HSI, has been fighting his employer in the federal courts for some time. He has filed retaliation claims, as reported by Courthouse News Service:
Discussing his case in an interview, Mount said he first heard the allegations from a co-worker. At the time Mount says he was fighting with the agency over retaliation he claims to have faced for providing information to a witness in a Merit Systems Protection Board hearing.
An internal employment dispute over the alleged retaliation is ongoing, said Mount, who remains employed by the agency.
Mount did not delve more deeply into the allegations against Edge or provide additional evidence to support them.
The agent’s attorney, Morris Fischer, noted in an interview that the Freedom of Information Act request is related in that it could show the agency has not been “up and up” on its disciplinary practices.
The U.S. Merits Protection Board is charged with protecting “the merit system principles and promoting an effective Federal workplace free of Prohibited Personnel Practices.” I’m no expert on Merits Protection Board proceedings, but it’s probably a safe bet that paying a hooker for sex and then using a local cop to get your papers back from her might fall under “Prohibited Personnel Practices.”
In telling Mount to go pound sand with his FOIA claim for records, DHS went with the FOIA exemption that precludes disclosure of personal information in law enforcement records. Don’t believe DHS? Just ask the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ,” one more acronym for this post’s government alphabet soup), which states:
Under the balancing test that traditionally has been applied to both Exemption 6 and Exemption 7(C), the agency must first identify and evaluate the privacy interest(s), if any, implicated in the requested records. 12 But in the case of records related to investigations by criminal law enforcement agencies, the case law has long recognized, either expressly or implicitly, that “‘the mention of an individual’s name in a law enforcement file will engender comment and speculation and carries a stigmatizing connotation. (My emphasis.)
“Engender comment and speculation and carries a stigmatizing connotation”? I thought that’s what DOJ press releases after indictments but before convictions were meant to do. More from Courthouse News:
FOIA exemption 7(c), which the department cited in support of its decision to deny Mount’s request, allows agencies to protect personal information in law-enforcement records.
But Fischer says that exemption should not apply because some of the documents his client sought are not personnel records. Communications between agency officials about Edge’s case and other internal documents would also be caught up in Mount’s request, he added.
Last year a federal judge dismissed Mount’s employment discrimination lawsuit that claimed he was passed over for other jobs and denied his own office because of his genitalia. Whether Mount’s newest claims, this time against an agent who is now an ICE bigwig, turn out to be true hold up in court, time will tell.
*That shouldn’t be the case, but that is another conversation for another day.